Browsing Category: "General Interest"

TechMentor Approaching Fast!

General Interest February 28th, 2011

You’re not too late for TechMentor Orlando, March 14 – 18, 2011 at Disney’s Yacht Club.

TechMentor is offering Mind of Root listeners the best discount so far – $400 discount off the 5 Day Best Value Conference Pass (discount applies to the Standard rate and new registrations only)!

Register at http://bit.ly/TMReg with the code UGTM3 for the discount.If you’ve never attended it, TechMentor is 5 intensive and informative days of immediately-applicable training on today’s critical IT topics – everything from Active Directory to Virtualization – with a specific track and several sessions on PowerShell.Go to http://bit.ly/TMPwrShl if you want to know more about sessions and speakers.

Need to Validate Your BFFs?

General Interest February 27th, 2011

Microsoft offer a BFFValidator…  Need I say more?

Actually, I do.. what this unfortunately abbreviated product does is validate binary file formats for doc, xls, and ppt files.

TweeterTags – Organize the Chaos

Associations, Geek Stuff, General Interest February 7th, 2009

Twitter is an interesting ecosystem.  Tweets on every topic under the sun (and some that aren’t) are flying by at an ever increasing speed. 

Some people in various groups of interest have tried to reign in some of the chaos by coming up with lists of people interested in various topics (like my PowerShell Twitterers list).

The problem with these types of lists is that they require some work to maintain and can quickly become outdated.  Here’s where TweeterTags comes in to play.

TweeterTags.com is a site that allows you to tag Twitter account with your areas of interest.  By tagging yourself, you make it easier to find other like-minded people and make it easier for others with the same interest to find you.

TweeterTags exposes a RESTful api, and Jeff Hicks quickly wrote a script (Get-TweeterTaggedUser) to take advantage of it.

Thanks to Jonathan Noble and his associates for this innovative site!

I’ve tagged myself, how about you?

Andy asks, “By When?”

Career, General Interest November 29th, 2008

Andy Schneider (of the Get-PowerShell Blog) just posted a great blog post about a topic that is often overlooked, but can be a great source of frustration and conflict in the workplace.

This is a question that goes un-asked and un-answered all too often. So often I am in a meeting where Project Manager X asks Engineer Y, “Can you do so and so?” and the engineer says “Absolutely!” and we move on to the next item on the agenda. This is a recipe for disaster. There is no set time that this task is due. There is no promise or commitment.

One of the bigest hurdles I run across in my day job is pinning people down on when they expect certain work items to be done.  The most common response is “When you have time…” or “It’s not a priority…”.  To me, that communicates that the task is not time sensitive and can be put into the pile with the other requests/problems I have to look into.  Currently I have about 80 active items that need some sort of action in my ticketing system, plus the daily requests and fires that come up during the day.  It could be weeks or months before something with a low priority gets action (it is reviewed every week as part of my weekly review).  The requestor, though, might believe that a low priority item should be done by the end of the day or end of the week.  It becomes necessary for me to force the requestor to give me a date as to when their item is needed by; and if I don’t, it can lead to frustration on the part of the requestor and exasperation on my side, when their “low priority” item becomes a fire that needs to be put out.By the project manager not defining when the task is expected to be done and the engineer not commiting to a timeframe, the stage is set for conflict and slipped schedules.I’ve become a fan of agile practices which are growing in popularity in software development cycles, but can be applied to systems and network administration.  These practices encourage frequent communication and status updates, as well as responding quickly to changes in requirements.  None of this is possible if everyone is not clear on what is expected to be done by when.  Communication is the foundation of a smooth running process and “By when?” is a critical component of that communication. Expectations and ability to complete the task by that expected time need to become a required part of any task assignment, and both parties need to use the same, specific terminology and keep the lines of communication open if the schedule changes or the time needed to complete the task changes.

AT&T – It’s Not To Be

General Interest, Networking, Rants, Vendors November 7th, 2008

Well, my AT&T experience has been less than stellar.  I’ve been talking recently on the podcast about my troubles with Time Warner’s RoadRunner service (including having my service drop out several times during the past few shows).  I was looking forward to having AT&T’s U-Verse installed at my home after a sales person had come to my door over the summer to advise me that the service was available in my neighborhood.

Fast forward to October 10th,  I had a sales rep from AT&T in my home discussing the services I was going to purchase.  I was very eager to get them installed and was somewhat dismayed to find that their installation schedule was already about a month out.  I scheduled an installation for today (Friday, November 7th).

This morning, before the technician came to my house, he called me and advised me that I probably would not be able to get service.  While they installed new fiber to the nearby Central Office, the copper lines coming to my block were old and had not yet been upgraded.  They did not think that the existing copper would work for this service.  He advised me that they had previous issues installing on my block and that this has been a known issue (reported several times in the past).  The tech also told me that this segment was not scheduled to be repaired until next year.

So, I’m stuck with Time Warner, until I can find a cost effective replacement (maybe TDS?).

I think the service provided by AT&T was abysmal.  I would have appreciated some notification that there was a potential problem and that service was likely not going to be able to be delivered anytime before today.

I called my sales rep (who is a friend of a friend) and advised him that my service was not going to be installed and that I was going to call and make some noise about this.  I tried to explain that I was not upset with him, as he did not have the information to relay to me, but that I was frustrated and upset about the process and inconvenience.  I also advised him that I would be recording my experiences for the blog and podcast.  I was stunned by his reaction to my experience.  He was more concerned about negative publicity than with the loss of a customer.  He stated that I should not report negatively about my experience, since all I lost was my time. I was stunned and I reacted badly.

Ed, I’m sorry I raised my voice on the phone, that was unprofessional of me. (I really wanted to put a "but, …" in there; however, I was wrong on raising the level of my voice.)  I do not retract any of my statements, but I should not have raised my voice.

People who know me know that it takes a lot to get me upset, but AT&T, in the person of their sales rep, had just discounted the most valuable thing I have, time.  Each person only has so much time in their lives and respecting other peoples’ time is very important to me. 

Time is a limiting factor in our lives and impacts everything we do.  We are paid for our time at work.  We spend time with our loved ones, doing activities we enjoy.  We donate time to causes we believe in.  

In all those statements, time is currency and we have a finite, unknown quantity of it to use.  I get upset when people squander that resource, and enraged when people dismiss its value.

I’m not perfect, but I try my best to respect other people’s time.  I wish other people and companies would as well.  AT&T sure does not.

The Next Big Thing

Associations, Career, General Interest October 5th, 2008

I was called out by Jeff Hicks regarding his new meme on "The Next Big Thing" in IT.  His post dealt with the increase in virtualization as hardware becomes more powerful and that the network will become the bottleneck that drive speed is now.

 

I’d like to diverge a bit from what I think other’s ideas and responses will be and offer my opinion on what I think "The Next Big Thing" in our industry should be.

 

In large part, our industry is focused around technical advancements.  Whether it is software or hardware advances, we know that change is constant.  I’m not going to hazard a guess as to "The Next Big Thing" in regards to technology.  My contribution to this meme is my vision and hope for the IT Pro community at large. 

 

My view of "The Next Big Thing" is the development of the IT Pro community.  There are efforts to support user groups and local IT communities (examples: LOPSA and Culminis), but as Greg Shields noted in his column on The State of IT Conferences, that it appears that IT Conference attendance has dropped.  Other areas of IT have not noticed this decline (particular the development community – .NET Rocks Show on Building Technical User Communities).  In the development community, not only have free or low cost community events become more popular, but attendance at paid conferences  is also rising.

 

I hope to see the increase in a sense of community in the IT Pro world.  There are currently community efforts that focus on specific technologies (e.g. the PowerShell community), but I think IT Pros need to reach across technological divides and connect with other IT Pros.  There are many things that IT Pros do that transcend specific technologies: task automation, user support, documentation, training, project planning, and more.  Additionally, networking with IT Pros that work with different technologies will only improve one’s awareness and ability to respond to situations in their current and future work environments. 

 

As I see it, the development of the IT Pro community can lead to several key benefits:

  • An increase in professional development opportunities.  As local members of a community have opportunities to present on topics, they gain a better understanding of the topic and have a chance to improve their presentation skills, and the community gains from the experience of the presenter.
  • An opportunity to increase one’s professional network.  By interacting with other members in the local, national, and international community, one can develop contacts with people with expertise in areas other than one’s own area and provide resources to draw on in unfamiliar situations.
  • Increased legitimacy as a profession.  By belonging to a user group or professional organization, outside perception of IT Pros by management and executives will improve, as communities and professional organizations lend themselves to the development of standards of behavior and professionalism and can be self-policing of those standards.
  • Provides a low barrier to entry for new members of the profession.  User groups and professional communities provide people new to the profession with access to experienced members, who could become mentors or advisors, as well as providing insight into the job field greater than what one might see in their current role.

I’m sure there are additional benefits to user groups and professional communities, and I am interested in your thoughts.

 

What do you think is "The Next Big Thing"?

Tell us about your best technology implementation

Career, Feedback, Geek Stuff, General Interest, Special Topics September 18th, 2008

OK, so last week I asked everyone for their war-stories on worst technology projects/implementation experiences.  Let’s turn it around and ask for your best experiences.

Tell us your story.

What was the worst piece of technology you ever had to implement?

Career, Geek Stuff, General Interest, Show Stuff, Special Topics September 11th, 2008

We wanna know.

I threw out this question on episode 66 of the podcast; What was the worst piece of technology you ever had to implement?

Drop a comment and tell us your story.

-Keith

Geek President

Career, Geek Stuff, General Interest, Promote Us July 25th, 2008

Well, as if work and home life aren’t hectic enough, now I’m apparently running for president.

News3Online Breaking News

Many thanks to Cali Lewis at GeekBrief for the link to the site.

Keith’s SysAdmin Meme

Associations, Career, Geek Stuff, General Interest, Scripting, Special Topics June 16th, 2008

OK, here it goes.

How old were you when you started using computers?

I was around 12 or 13 when I started playing with computers. I saw them in Popular Science and was fascinated with them. I then pestered my parents for my first PC for Christmas and my dad finally took me to K-Mart where I had to choose between the Texas Instruments TI/99-4A, the Timex Sinclair 1000, and either the Commodore Vic-20 or C-64.

What was your first machine?

My first computer was a Timex Sinclair 1000. I remember my friend getting a Commodore and being jealous of the color graphics. My second and real springboard PC was a Radio Shack/Tandy TRS-80 Model 4 with 64 kb RAM and dual 5.25 floppy drives (360k each!) We had Tandy TRS-80 Model II and 3’s in my school district so I went with what I knew. My dad had IBM PC’s at work and showed me an ad for an IBM (Peanut, I think) and I decided to stick to the Radio Shack brand. I still have both of these units somewhere in my parents attic….along with all the other old stuff I’ve talked about on the show. My first x86 PC was a Bondwell B210 286 laptop with a 40 MB hard drive.

What was the first real script you wrote?

Hello World loop in Basic on the Timex Sinclair 1000……Isn’t that what everyone writes? I went on to write an inventory control system in BASIC for the company my dad worked for. I coded on the TRS-80 and then printed it out. A typist transcribed my code onto an IBM PC and then I came in to troubleshoot the problems. No reading floppies cross-platform in those days. There were subtle differences in the BASIC compilers back than for disk I/O and file handling. Sadly, this old geek can still remember that BASIC stood for Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code.

What scripting languages have you used?

Basic (No, not visual), Pascal, COBOL, and Fortran. Pascal will always be my favorite. Top down design rocks. If you haven’t declared it….you can’t freakin’ call it. That’s probably why I’ve had so much trouble grasping the object-oriented languages. Later on into today, it’s been DOS batch file scripts, SQL, Kixtart, and the occasional dabble into PowerShell.

What was your first professional sysadmin gig?I took a part-time job in 1987 doing data entry for free magazine subscriptions (International Computer Network) while going to community college for Comp Sci. When they found I had a tech bent, they started using me to do after-hours system tasks on the two mainframes we had (Tandem System I and Tandem System II). Load tapes for backups, load printers for labels or other print jobs, etc. The one thing I remember is the wide carriage printers in the data center. Before each type of print job, I had to run a paper tape with a series of holes punched in it through a reader on the printer. This would set up the printer for the type of job to be printed.

If you knew then what you know now, would have started in IT?

Definitely. During my college years, after I gave up on programming as a major, I focused on being in the financial markets. After a couple of years, however, things changed and I took on MIS as a second major and veered back towards IT. Mostly the change was in the industry. I wasn’t cut out to be a programmer locked in a hermetically sealed mainframe room, but that was the only college curriculum at that time. Once MIS and broader IS/IT curriculums came around it fit me better.

If there is one thing you learned along the way that you would tell new sysadmins, what would it be?

Everybody knows something you don’t. Talking to them and asking them is the only way to find out what it is. In return, share everything you know. Nothing is more counterproductive than having knowledge and not sharing it.

If I could add a second item, it would be; Nobody knows everything. If you think you do, it is time to get out of this field. You need to enjoy constantly learning new things because this is an ever changing field.

What’s the most fun you’ve ever had scripting?

I guess the scripts I am most proud of are the ones I did for Y2K at my old job. They had these old scripts using this Novell Netware add-on pack that allowed them to transfer files between a Novell NetWare server and a SCO Unix server. The Add-on pack was not Y2K compliant, so I replicated the scripts using FTP and DOS batch files. There are only one or two facilities still using these scripts, but thy are still there 10 years later.

Who am I calling out?

Paul Rj Muller at the Caffination Podcast

Justo Morales at the Pepe Show Podcast

Rick Savoia of the The Force Field Podcast

UPDATE: Paul and Rick have both responded. I’ll have to reach out to Justo and kick him in the asterisk. You can find Paul and Rick’s responses at the following links:

Paul’s Response

Rick’s Response

blank