disengage.ca a quest for the technomadic lifestyle

7Aug/080

Whirlwind!

Well, it's day... four? Five? Technically five, I guess - of my new job. So far I've definitely done the majority of my productive work in my home office, aka "the desk in my bedroom". The few days that I've actually been out on the road with my bike, I had errands to run - each day it seemed like those errands led me back to my office, though in retrospect I think that was artificial, and there was no real reason I couldn't have stopped in a park.

Today I embark on the first "real" away mission of my quest - I am writing this sitting in an uncomfortable chair at the Vancouver airport, heading off on a two-week visit to New Brunswick centered around my grandmother's birthday.

The job so far has been interesting, to say the least. The first day I logged in and started pestering the current admins for documentation and guidance, but the main admin was crazy busy, so told me to just poke around on my own and we'd have a conference call on Monday. The downside to this was that Monday was a holiday in British Columbia. I brought this point to light, but it didn't seem to be a problem - and since I'm taking off to NB today and won't be able to do any real work from the airplane, I figured a tradeoff would be acceptable.

Sunday night I went out drinking with some friends - hey, it was a long weekend. Monday I got up around 10am, took a leisurely shower, made some breakfast, cracked my knuckles, and cracked my laptop.

Uh oh. Fifteen new messages from work.

Turns out the gossip site posted some paparazzi photos of Miley Cyrus in her underwear. Cute, I guess, if you're into that way-too-young thing - the problem came when Fox News linked to the site, causing it to drop to its knees in protest. The older admin rebuilt the page as static HTML, which took a lot of the load off of the database, and made the site somewhat responsive again. We pushed over 500 gigs of data per *hour* for the next four hours.

Tuesday was running a bunch of errands and I barely got two hours of actual work done. Wednesday I got a good solid six hours in, and it was my most productive to date. I made a lot of good discoveries about the systems; the most encouraging was that all of the machines are pretty much completely identical hardware-wise, and all have the same revision of CentOS. The less encouraging was that all of the machines have custom builds of Apache, each build is somewhat different from the rest, and none of the machines are up-to-date with OS patches.

The nice part about all the machines being nearly identical is that with a little bit of configuration I can treat the cluster as a single machine - I can build a single complex command on my Macbook and have it execute on each of the machines in sequence. I added my system accounts, along with ssh keys and a custom 'sudo' configuration, and poof - suddenly running an update on all 30-odd machines is 30 times less work than it used to be!

Today I fly to New Brunswick for a visit with my folks, and hopefully this weekend I'll get a chance to visit with some old friends. I'll still have to work, which could be interesting - the first few days I'll be spending at my father's house in Sussex, where I don't think he has internet access.

I found out my Burning Man plans are a go! I return from New Brunswick on the 21st of August in the evening, get a chance to sleep, then have almost a day to pick up the last few bits I need for the epic week in the desert. On the 22nd I take the ferry to Victoria, where I meet up with friends who are driving a 15-passenger van down to Nevada - we leave Saturday morning, and aim to arrive on Monday. It looks like I'll be camping with the Deep End!

More later, it's time to board the plane.

Posted by drew

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