Archive for 2008

I have entered the stereotypical, statistical parenting phase of my life.

I stood in line to pay $60 for the “hottest toy of the season”, Elmo Live.  I also went in search of the best price on a Playstation Portatble (PSP).  Then I bought the games, memory card and every other damn thing the sales kid told me I had to buy for it to work.  I argued for an item in a toy store…and won.  The smile on my face was quickly replaced with a blank stare as I realized my own mediocrity.

Some ultra-wealthy parents buy their kids cars, apartments, ponies or spa memberships.  And lots of ultra-granola parents buy their kids a tree to plant and a card memorializing the contribution made towards saving a gorilla in their name.  Not me.  I go straight for whatever I’m sold by the capitalist marketing machine.  Stir the economy stupid.  However there is one big difference in how I operated this year compared to the majority of American consumers: I paid cash.  There will not be one credit card debt in our household as a result of this holiday season.

So what if I bought my child portable attention deficit disorder (see PSP) when he didn’t even ask for it.  I know he will wear the paint off the buttons.  And if Logan only laughs at Elmo singing and dancing for 15 minutes well, that’s what I paid for.  And don’t get me started on what I spent on Amy.  She’s getting less gifts and for more money than either of the kids.  If it wasn’t made by a brand name designer or personalized she isn’t getting it.

Ya I’m a mediocre consumer drone and I don’t care.  I give the gifts people want without pretending that I’m giving them something they need and won’t give a damn about.  Christmas is about want, not need.  Don’t ask me what I “need”.  I’ll buy what I need.  You get me what I can’t or won’t buy for myself (my dad is pretty good about following this rule).  That’s the real spirit of Christmas, like it or not.  That is unless you are the purist of Christian and genuinely celebrate the season based on it’s original intent.  I don’t know too many of those people anymore.  That is, I really don’t know anyone who would display the same “spirit” of Christmas without giving or receiving gifts.  Do you?

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DOWNTIME…

So it took me a while to get around to troubleshooting why this web server wouldn’t boot. It was a video card issue. I just swapped cards. I really have just been too busy to give a damn about fixing it for the last couple of days but it was constantly nagging in the back of my mind. So tonight after I got Connor in bed I bit the bullet and got out a screwdriver.

Keeping servers and more importantly information services available is my job. I get paid to do it. Forgive me if I didn’t feel like living my job while out of the office for a couple of evenings. It’s not like I’m making any money writing this stuff. If I were, this server would have been up and running within minutes of going down. In reality, if money were involved there would have been enough redundancy built in that it could have never gone down in the first place. So sue me. Blood..stone…you know…

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Gotta have it…

dl650-thumb.jpgI’m really trying to talk myself out of this but I can’t.  I test drove a new 2008 Suzuki V-Strom 650 during lunch yesterday (don’t tell Amy).  As badly as I should buy a car, more specifically a truck, I really want this crazy cool dual sport.  First I’ll list the reasons why I probably shouldn’t pursue this:

  1. I’m in my mid to late 30′s.
  2. I have small children.
  3. I commute 40 miles one way to work.
  4. The last time I owned a motorcycle I almost lost the use of my right leg in a violent fiery crash (not at fault).
  5. People will tell me it’s irresponsible.

Now I will try to justify my desire against the intelligent, rational logic above:

  1. I’m in my mid to late 30′s (30 is the new 20 ya know).
  2. Connor and Logan will think I’m the coolest dad alive.
  3. This thing gets 51 mpg.
  4. I rode a motorcycle exclusively without owning a car for 2 1/2 years before the accident plus I’m about 15 years older now.
  5. When was the last time I cared what anyone else thought?  Besides, soon I can pay cash for this and I despise consumer financing.

The real reason I may buy a bike is because I want one.  For some reason I cannot bring myself to get excited about the prospect of car shopping or a new car or truck.  I don’t even have the motivation to go look at them.  The idea of this dual sport commuter gets me pumped.  I can’t remember being this enthusiatic about anything in a while.  So should I do the responsible, conservative thing and insure my safety for the sake of my family at the sacrifice of my own enthusiasm and happiness?  Or do I get my ass back in gear again and live?  Decisions…

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Trimaco’s MPLS Network

This morning I started the deployment of Trimaco’s MPLS network through AT&T.  It will be replacing the older IPSec site-to-site VPN currently in place between two corporate offices and two manufacturing facilities.  Once the site connectivity is in place all locations will be configured to share a common internet gateway verses the individual gateways now in place.

I need to identify a good proxy server to put behind the existing PIX firewall that will act as the common gateway.  I also need to get to work on some network schematics because my predecessor at Trimaco knew almost zero, hardly one damn thing, about subnetting.   There are illegal subnets all over this network.  Not classless but pure illegal, as in multiple 192 class C address spaces with /23 net masks.  Please God, help the untrained who make it up as they go along.  Or better yet just stop them.

Here’s what I’m thinking…

LAN IP address blocks delivered via Windows 2003 Server DHCP:

  • 10.10.10.0/23 = Durham
  • 10.10.20.0/23 = Manning, SC
  • 10.10.30.0/23 = Phoenix, AZ
  • 10.10.40.0/23 = St. Louis

The servers address spaces at 192.168.1.x will stay in place on their own subnet.  This will require routing between VLANs on our Nortel Baystack 5510-48T but that’s bad medicine when a layer 3 switch is available.  An inexpensive router with two Gigabit ethernet interfaces would also be able to handle this.  I do want to change the subnet the servers are on from /23 to a legal /24.  I need to look at how much configuration change this will require to accomdate the PAT and NAT entries at the gateway.  My guess is little or no impact.

The end result should be dynamically assigned 10.10.x.x addresses to the workstations by location CPE with their default gateway ultimately being 192.168.1.250.  I have to make sure that 192 subnet is available to all other subnets via routing tables before the switch can be flipped.  I’ve also got to start shopping proxy solutions.

braindump(config-if)#>exit

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So how much time did OJ get?

Talk about conflicting headlines.  Click the image of the RSS feeds below and try to explain it to me….

OJ Sentence Headlines

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Health Care Feedback on change.gov…

This morning I went to President Elect Obama’s website change.gov and expressed my opinion on what is necessary to provide affordable health care in America. I’m sure it’s one in two million but hey, I said my piece.

“I am one of the millions of Americans that helped President elect Obama get where he is.  That said, Senator McCain was very right about at least one thing that being the underlying source of health care issues in this country: the cost.

While lack of affordable insurance is foremost on consumers minds it must be determined why health insurance is unaffordable.  Hospital corporations continue to emphasize their increasing operational cost while reporting record earnings to shareholders and owners year after year.  28.1 billion in profits in 2007.  Do we really need to be playing a profit margin game with peoples health and lives?

While I’m all for capitalism I do not see where it is in the best interest of Americans to allow hospitals and health care conglomerates to continue increasing their costs to maintain and increase profit margins.  These cost must be brought under control and only government intervention can do this.

It will take sweeping “change” to achieve this because businesses in the health care industry can no longer be looked at as a “for profit” investment, such as HCA.  Otherwise any price controls would be met by the hospitals through a reduction of resources and services to patients in order to meet profitability.

Businesses in the health care industry can no longer be run under the same business and administrative principals as other corporate entities.  They must take on an operational structure similar to other not-for-profit organizations.  Anything less will continue the cycle of rising costs now estimated at 6-7 times the annual rate of inflation.”

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Future uncertain for the children of auto workers?

Yes, it’s the saddest story I read today. Apparently CNN thought it necessary to reprint a Uwire sob story about the plight of auto industry children. They may have to find a way to actually pay for school. I couldn’t stop the tears. To think that retired auto workers may have to forgo lifetime salaries and free health care for themselves and their children… Well, I don’t know if I have the strength to hear any more of this tragic burden.

Oh wait, yes I do. Welcome to the world the rest of us live in. The world without pensions, free health care and other guaranteed retirement benefits thanks to a Union. Tell your sob story to my 62 year old mother who doesn’t plan to quit working any time soon. Your poor tear jerking article claims a school girls parents “logged more than 30 years for the auto giant”, GM. This school girl is 29 years old. Now that just makes me damned mad. My mothers been working for over 39 years non-stop often on night shifts for years at a time. Where’s her free health care? Where’s her lifetime salary at retirement? How come I didn’t get to go to college for free?

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Racksolutions Rack Monitor / Keyboard Shelf

It’s pretty rare that I get excited about an inexpensive piece of hardware for a server rack. I’ve never been impressed or excited enough about one to blog about it. So this thing is already getting special attention. It’s Trimaco’s new Racksolutions KVM monitor and keyboard shelf ($429.06 at CDW). Why is this thing important?

For a long time KVM switches with integrated monitor / keyboard trays have been available from almost all server and rack equipment manufacturers. They have always cost anywhere from $1300 to $4000 depending on how many KVM ports are included. They usually come in 8, 16 and 24 port models. But what if you already have an expensive KVM switch in the rack? A few manufacturers have offered just integrated keyboard and monitor shelves and they still hover around $1000 minimum (monitor included).

Rack Solutions has genuinely come up with a product that has a space in the rack hardware market. Their shelf allows you to take any 15, 17 or 19 inch flat panel you may have around (or purchase) and mount it to the bracket on their keyboard shelf for under $500. I grabbed an old 17″ Samsung we had in an unused cubicle. It includes the mini rack keyboard, long cables, a PS2 to USB converter and fits in a 2U space. Simply hook up to the existing KVM in the rack and you will have a genuine rack console. I don’t know how long it’s been on the market but I wish I knew about it 8 years ago. Many anal IT Managers I worked for scoffed at the price of rack mounted monitor / KVM solutions. The same guys who never had to do any work in the rack.

You’ll have to tolerate the photo quality. I took them with my Blackjack.

keybd.jpg

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We’re a one car family now.

The F-150 is dead and gone, smoking transmission and all. Short sale to the rescue. Good riddance. Here’s something important to know: Gap insurance is useless unless you wreck your car. It doesn’t cover mechanical failures.

I’m not sorry to see the truck go. And I’m not certain we’re going to buy another car any time soon. We do live out in the middle of nowhere but so far it hasn’t been that much of an inconvenience. My sister is right down the street so if Amy is in a desperate situation she has transportation while I’m at work.

Part of this is a test. I got into a forum debate with some people on Digg last week regarding this very topic. I swore that some families need two cars and cited mine as an example. If we can do this anyone can. I’ll either save the money to pay cash for a car or we won’t buy another one. Since I’ve sworn off financing this my idea of practicing what I’m preaching. I won’t get a loan from a bank even though a dealer has pre-qualified me. At this very moment, in this economy I am one of the Treasury and banking systems enemy consumers. And I will not give in. It’s like my own little mini protest. The candle light vigil will be held at midnight.

Since I’m back on the subject of debt again, I now owe the movie gallery in Wendell and the one in Zebulon $35 each. Thanks to a lost copy of Spiderman 3 for Playstation and a Wall-E DVD that never made it home with Amy tonight I will pay them the equivalent of renting movies for 3 months. Add to this the $158 water bill I received for Oct. 22 to Nov. 22nd and you don’t need to think hard to understand why I’m not going to finance anything for a long time, if ever again.

When I opened this comically sinister water bill tonight I went under the house to see if we had a leak. No leaks but I did find the hose on the right side of the house watering the neighbors lawn for the last month. 498 gallons a day thanks to Connor and Jacob playing with the spicket. I think I set a Wake County consumption record.

You want to know the real irony of the DVD that Amy lost on the way home from the movie store. She went to get it with a free rental voucher.

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Are mother-in-laws okay or even cool now?

Barack Obama may be bringing his to the White House. Apparently he’s very fond of her and all the help she provides with his girls. Did you know there’s an official Mother-In-Law day which was started in 2002? It’s on the 4th Sunday of each October. I just found this out 2 weeks too late to make anything of it this year.

My mom and my brother-in-law have never really gotten along great, although thier relationship is starting to get a little better. I was talking with Amy, my parents and their neighbors last weekend and told them that as far as mother-in-laws go I’ve got one of the best anyone could hope for. She’s way into sports, Carolina to be specific, supports a large technology company for a living and always seems to try to have fun at everything she does. I’m sure I’ve offended her somehow at some point but I can’t really say that she’s ever done anything that I can remember having a major issue with. Hell, in some circumstances she’s been more understanding and supportive than my own parents but that could just be a matter of perspective based on their roles.

It could be that I’m making more out of this than actually exists. I suppose a handful of us have mother-in-laws we appreciate while there are probably a lot of people who still need to arm themselves with “Frequent-Fry-Her” jokes. It’s kind of a relief not to have to participate because I have enough going on without having to deal with an inherited, annoying family member.

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