jeff on 11 Jun 2008 08:52:30 -0700

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[PLUG] [almost OT] a week of Mondays

It’s been a rough week the past two days.

After all the normal crap at work, we had to deal with the 
Virtualization Disappointment (see elsewhere) and the Great Air 
Conditioning Debacle of 2008 (as opposed to the Great Air Conditioning 
Debacle of 2007).  We almost fell out the door and poured ourselves into 
our cars.  Fortunately the cars automatically drive us home or we 
wouldn’t know how we made it (and half of us don’t drink).

I rushed home to enjoy the lack of air conditioning there and work on my 
2nd job.  An hour into it my main job’s boss calls: by the way, he tells 
me… it’s 80 degrees in the server room.

There could be entire comedic routines written about obvious phrases, 
but I’ll just use the phrase for now:   “That’s not good.”

We discuss options, I suggest he locate some building people (yeah 
right, at 7pm).  He calls back 10 minutes later to tell me he got some 
fans set up.  One of the a/c units isn’t functioning (go figure, it’s 
the building’s unit, as opposed to our in-wall cooler).

He calls a third time to tell me the temp is now 85 and maybe we should 
consider shutting down some servers.  Righto - I told him I’d VPN in and 
take care of it myself.

After this it really got fun.

I’m using my main linux box for job#2, which features a brand new 
Windows virtual machine.  Unfortunately because it’s brand new, I 
haven’t had a chance to load the VPN software so I can’t use it to connect.

No problem - I fire up the seldom-used Windows box next to the linux 
box.  As it comes up I realize I don’t have the VPN software on that one 
either (although I thought I did).   Hmm…. must be on the laptop.

You know where the laptop is, of course… it’s upstairs.  I’ve had this 
laptop for almost a year now and it’s always in the same spot.  Except 

It’s not really a problem having two jobs.  The problem comes in when I 
have to do both of them at the same time.

I bolt upstairs to get the laptop.  It’s right where I left it.  And the 
headphones I left with it have knotted themselves tightly around the 
latop in a death-grip.

Back downstairs with the laptop safely(?) booting up, I try to keep 
job#2 humming along smoothly.  This will not happen.  The pen I am using 
keeps leaping off the papers it’s sitting on and trying to hide itself. 
  It may even be trying to commit suicide by diving off the papers onto 
the cold cruel floor, but it won’t get away for long.  If I catch it 
running away I can always find it.  If my wife uses it, I will never see 
it again.

While playing Save the Pen, I’m also noticing that my typing has gotten 
completely out of hand - worse than normal.  Some people are dyslexic. 
Some just can’t type.  I’m a dyslexic typist.  Every time I type`the’ it 
comes out `teh’ or `hte’.  If I had a dollar for every time I typed 
`the’ correctly, I’d have a dollar the next time it happens.

As bad as being a dyslexic typist is, my laptop has taken to playing 
games with me.  If you have a touchpad, you know exactly what I’m 
talking about.  The cursor will randomly move to a different line for no 
apparent reason (like it has three times while I have tried to type this 
very line).  Oh yeah, I use an ergonomic keyboard except on the laptop, 
making it just that much more fun.

By this time (three hours later) the laptop has booted and I’m running 
the Windows virtual machine (yes, it’s a linux laptop) with the VPN 
software.   Only the VPN software doesn’t want to come up.  It wants to 
politely wait its turn til after the antivirus updates.  It still hasn’t 
learned that even Windows can multitask enough to update the antivirus 
and start up the VPN at the same time.

Once I convinced the VPN to come up and connect, I was securely 
connected to work #1, or so I thought.  I mentally went over the list of 
servers and their IP addresses, realizing that I don’t have all the new 
ones memorized yet.  No problem- I just went and shut down the servers 
whose IP’s I remembered.

Or so I thought.

There were a number of servers that would not let me connect.  They 
returned pings but would not allow me to remote into them.  One didn’t 
even return a ping.  Most interesting, especially with 85 degree and 
rising temperatures.  And the continued efforts of a pen to shuffle off 
its mortal coil and join the choir invisible.

I went to get the server IP config document and realized it would be a 
somewhat difficult job, made moreso by the fact that I had just shut 
down the server that had the docs stored on it.

With a few stubborn servers left, I remoted to a different server and 
fired up the remote client from there.  BINGO.   The servers that 
refused to return a ping or let me remote in started returning pings and 
allowing me to remote in.

And I continued to type like a drunk dyslexic with a hangover and a bad 
case of nerves.  My neighbors think there’s some sort of madman living 
in my house, who is prone to the most egregious explosions of temper 
randomly.  And that’s in the winter with all the doors and windows closed.

Speaking of madman,  I just felt something weird and looked down to find 
my phone’s belt clip attached to the laptop’s power cord.  I could not 
explain how it got there for all the money in the world and I stopped 
trying a long time ago.  My friend, a woman much wiser in the ways of 
the mystical than me, said I have a weird house.  Stuff randomly leaps 
up for no particular reason (much like this #*@&ing cursor).  When I 
went to put it next to my phone I noticed there was already a belt clip 
on the phone. This means that for the first time, something has actually 
helpfully appeared out of the ether, as opposed to disappearing into the 
ether.  I won’t even bother to think about this, as it could cause 
headaches the likes of which I have never endured.

There are still four servers that won’t come down.   One won’t come down 
because I can’t remote into it.  Why?  Because we discovered one day 
that whenever you remote into this blighter, it reboots.  So we 
pretended it never happened and shut off terminal services.  Ah, 
Windows, we love you.

As anyone who has ever used a computer knows, you can’t simply shut down 
a Windows machine, no sir.  2000 Server wants to install updates and 
shut down by default.  If you’re not paying careful attention this is 
what will happen.  Server 2003 isn’t content to default to applying 
updates; it wants a reason for the shutdown.  As if `BECAUSE I SAID SO’ 
weren’t good enough.  I need to be second-guessed by an operating system 
from a state with even more rain than London.  An OS that needs to be 
rebooted, unlike any other OS, such as linux.

And then there’s the other server.  It told me I wasn’t allowed to log 
in because all the terminal server slots/licenses were being used.  Neat 
trick, especially at 7:30pm, when there’s no possible way anybody else 
could be using it. This turned out to be what Microsoft undoubtedly 
refers to as a Feature of terminal services (as opposed to Yet Another 
Bug).  When people log out, the connection reads disconnected, but never 
bothers to go away.  I figure this is yet another facet of Windows, the 
Helpful Operating System.  It hasn’t dropped the connection slot because 
it’s helpfully holding it in case the person who dropped the connection 
wants to reconnect.

If you’re following along at home, I’m using a linux laptop with a 
Windows virtual machine, opon which is VPN software that connects me to 
work.  I have to remote desktop into a work server because certain other 
servers won’t let me in.  In the case of other servers, I have to remote 
desktop into a different server so I can access terminal services for a 
third server, kicking off already disconnected sessions so I can start a 
real session to stop the machine in the first place (at which point it 
asks me if I’m sure and what’s the reason I’m turning it off).

Got it?

At this point I send a group text message to my team, alerting them of 
the problem and asking the first person in to bring up the servers, 
assuming we have attained server room temperatures below 85 degrees.  If 
not, they’re to shut down the remaining servers and tell everyone in the 
company to go pound sand.

Before I started my mad shutting-down of servers, I made certain to send 
an email to the entire company, letting them know that remote workers 
would be out of luck and that when they came in, some servers may still 
be down but will be up as soon as they can safely be brought back up.

The above is an act of pure optimism on my part.  I do it partly because 
my boss asks me to and partly for mmy own amusement.  What my boss fails 
to believe is that all of my messages to the company come with the 
Auto-Ignore flag attached to them.  Thus no one reads them or even knows 
that I sent any messages in the first place.  This has been documented, 
yet my boss still thinks I’m kidding.  Sometimes I have other members of 
the team send out important messages in the hopes of them being read.

The other battle is that I’m not entirely certain the people at work can 
read.  A quick visual survey reveals to even the most casual observer 
that we don’t hire for looks. A somewhat longer stay at work reveals 
that we don’t hire for brains either.  One day perhaps we’ll take a poll 
on what people think we do hire for.  Some say it’s a pulse.  Othes say 
that a pulse isn’t specifically ncessary so long as the body 
occasionally occupies some space in the vicinity of the desk.  Not every 
day, mind you, but occasionally.  The biggest sin is apparently not 
picking up your pay stub.  Since we’re required to have electronic 
deposit, we have to go to Payroll to pick up our stubs.  If one doesn’t 
pick up one’s stub after a week or two, they go on Payroll’s Bad List. 
After a few similar public humiliations don’t smoke you out, they figure 
you either quit and neglected to notify them or the body is starting to 

Tomorrow morning will start predictably.   People will amass in the 
general vicinity of their desks.  A small percentage of them will 
actuall read the email about the servers.  The large majority will 
immediately start screaming that their computer is broken. How have they 
come to this conclusion?  Because they can’t get to their documents. 
Where are their documents?  On the file server that is down.

“WHY IS THE FILE SERVER DOWN?”  they will scream, as if on the rack.

Didn’t you read the email?

WHAT email??

MIS sent out an email.  The servers were overheating.

Oh, yeah, I just knew that $&#@ing MIS was behind this.  MIS sucks.

[we won’t go into the logical impossibility surrounding this, lest we 
develop a headache of unfathomable proportions]

Even though we will all get there early to lessen the impact of this, 
there will still be massive whining about people not being able to do 
their jobs.  We will be wondering what all the fuss is about… after all, 
the internet is still up and they can madly go downloading their Beyonce 
videos.  Since this is more or less what they do all day anyway, it will 
be very confusing for us.

from ThermionicEmissions
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