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Most Recent (Last update: 2230 04/14/01)

Yeah okay, it's still Monday in Hawai'i as I write this. ...and I'll likely be out of sync for another day or two unless I get real lucky at work on Tuesday. ...and at home, for that matter.

If you follow my other site, you'll know that I ended up working the BOFH seat for a while this morning. I may detail some of the story later, but I'll settle for my direct boss's comment: "When you were doing this part time, this type of thing didn't happen, did it?" Coming from a non-tech, that is essentially high praise. By that I mean, if I'm doing my job, you'll never actually be aware that I'm doing my job...

Right now, no one notices that there's copy paper and toilet paper... I must be doing my job. Back then, I was away from the office, I called in to check on the power failure before anyone could even think of calling me. I must have been doing my job...

You see, I'm a hardware geek. I don't much care what they'd run on my boxes as long as the box and it's guts were tightly tied to the OS; if something broke, it must be because of that fancy, smancy software. When we changed the guard down here, the emphasis went to the in-house software (which runs darned fine, by the way) and the hardware became a commodity item with parts changed out when they didn't seem to work (...and yes: there's a tech rant coming on another day).

Please understand: I'm not extolling one version of The One True Way over another; they both get the job done. It's simply that not having your hands scarred from the sharp edges of cheap cases can lead to comments from the Y2k audit like, "There's something wrong with your computer; it says it has six comm ports. ...and that cannot be because the interrupts don't match." <Long Sigh>

Oh, and how did I know to call in to check up on power failures? Simple: APC equipment and software will page you to tell you it's gone on battery. ...or a myriad of other things. Heck, you can even call in and talk directly to the UPS on a 9.6 dialup if you want. ...and yeah, I was whacked enough to have paging enabled on a UPS on each leg of the three-phase. It came in handy the night PG&E dropped one leg... Two pages, but not three. "Ring, Ring... Hey, are any of the lights off down there?" "Yeah, some are out and some are on and some are just dim..." ...made for a long night. I didn't lose anything though.

So what happens when that 'whacked' mentality is not in place? ...and the sysadmin is 300 miles away. ...and the IT minion is out sick. ...and the power failed for quite some time at 1900 on Saturday.

Heh. BOFH for a day...


...and Matt checks in. ...and makes me feel much better about myself:

No, no, no, no...

You aren't a BOFH for a day. Being a BOFH is like being a werewolf. Even if you only grow the hair and feel the urge to kill once a month, you're still a werewolf full time. Only silver bullets can stop you.

As long as you still feel that hint of a sneer in certain situations, still feel the urge to listen to the shrill cry of the UPS, and feel the tickling under your skin from time to time that could either be massive amounts of hair growth or email withdrawal, you're a BOFH.



Thanks, Matt! I guess I hadn't realized it. All the symptoms were there: the comforting sound of the UPSes telling me everything was okay in my department while curses and shrieks echoed throughout the building, the shakes when the network is hosed and I hit my own ISP through a dialup for connectivity and email, the tell-tale throbbing of the arteries in my temples when...

...and a ''hint of a sneer''? Oh, no. I could make Elvis look positively sanguine the way my lip curls when when one of those events occurs.

But thanks; perhaps it's best just to accept things as they are...
47k wav file


I think I'll work this week's unanticipated theme for another day or two...

Before we moved upstairs, to be sandwiched between the general manager and the finance director, Janeen and I were in a little office off the main downstairs corridor. My servers were in there and telco, 9.6 flatwire, coax and Cat5 cable left little room in the ceiling area for even the rodents... We had a small plastic cardholder on the outside of our door which normally held a four by six inch piece of blue cardstock that declared this to be the 'Purchasing Department'. Our names were below along with our department slogan, "...and other duties as required."

Every so often, people would notice the blue paper would be gone and in its place was a piece of orange cardstock. Inscribed on it in a slightly more aggressive typeface was the legend, "Empirical Studies Department". For those in the know, this was a signal to walk softly if they dared cross the threshold of those who controlled The Plant, The Network, and The Toilet Paper... In brief, it meant we were currently tired of people trying to tell us how things were supposed to be happening; we were dealing with established, observable, repeatable fact! We'd didn't much care that you told us your crews were only supposed to be using 'x' numbers of 'y' product; the established, observable, repeatable fact was that 'x^2' product was flowing through the supply chain and the trail led directly to your door... (You can get aware with an attitude like that as long as your facts and figures are ready to go up to the big cheese on a moment's notice...)

Then there were the days when Janeen would look at me, or I at her and one of us would replace the orange banner with the piece of red cardstock, the one that led off with the headline,

The Red Queen was Right!

...and in the fine print below, the follow-up:

Off with their heads!

Dale Carnegie, I am not...


That's two for two this week, Mr. Beland. First the reminder about Daynotes itself in this week's column, then the overview of ''things'' in your Tuesday letter...

I haven't commented on ''things'' here for the simple reason I do not wish to stir this pot any more: it's already boiled over and singed some of my friends. I'll let Matt's reasoned response speak for me and add in an observation from last year:
Many things may be said on these very public pages;
some things are better said on the back channel;
some things are best said on a private channel;
and some things should only be said to the man in the mirror...

That said, let's move back to Part I, the Daynotes "We do these silly things...":

JHR mentioned last week that I helped him attain legible fonts in Konqueror, a feat not unlike some Yoga positions... But what both he and I failed to do was mention the how of the procedure. K'... Time to rectify that for anyone having a problem with teeny, tiny type renderings:

From the toolbar at the top of your window,
I leave my 'font size' setting at 'medium', but I set my 'minimum font size' to '8'. I suspect JHR, who has a year or two on me, sets his even higher <g>. As a side note, the other tabs on that page control your Java and JavaScript settings and automatic image loading...

...and here's one from the land of the Guru: one of the first things that will yank your chain while working on a Linux box with a simple configuration is your perceived inability to copy things from Konqueror to Bluefish and other aps. I'll leave the technical explanation to Brian as my mind was wandering both times he 'splained it to me (no, not disrespect for the teacher, rather I was trying to jump ahead in the lesson. Really!)... Anyway, the way to handle that one is to copy the text/URL in your usual fashion (<right-click> + 'copy' or <ctrl> + 'c' or <alt> + 'c' for Netscape) and then click your right and left mouse buttons simultaneously to paste into your destination.

No, not exactly intuitive. But did you expect a Klingon mouse to work the same as a Federation product?

I didn't think so...


Hmmm... The Daynotes portal is down; I have a mirror up for your convenience.

...and Matt adds some more information to the pool from yesterday regarding KDE and copying:

On fonts:

When you upgrade KDE to 2.1.1 (and you definitely want to do that) you get your first taste of anti-aliased fonts in Linux, provided you upgraded the underlying Qt system before upgrading KDE. The only problem is that, for me at least, you get a terrible look on all fonts that aren't anti-aliased. The simplest solution for me, in addition to changing the font size, was to change the font itself in Konqueror and in the Control Panel. You change the font in the same place you change the text size, and the Control Panel is on the root-level menu, at least in SuSE. I'm using Helvetica and it works *much* better. Didn't even have to adjust the font sizes much.

...and on an easier way to copy:

Second; the mouse-only copy/paste trick is even simpler. You don't have to -c or anything else to copy the text. Simply select the text you want to copy, whatever it may be. Then, without selecting any form of "copy", go to the place you want to paste it, and either click the middle mouse button or, if you have a two-button mouse, the right and left buttons together.

...and to close:

Isn't that slick? I love that, it makes server management so much easier - I can literally copy and paste commands from a command line into a text file, then copy them back later to re-execute the same commands in any order. All one-handed, with the mouse.

Thanks Matt! That's the type of thing that needs to be available to those of us just flailing about at times.

Speaking of which, I'll be doing some flailing this weekend: I managed to get SuSE to accept the existence of the PCMCIA NIC. ...and it works to a point: I can see the blinky lights that tell me the NIC in the laptop and the one in the workstation are talking to each other; it's just that I'm not part of the conversation.

I got there by manually telling YaST2 about the second NIC; now I think it's time to introduce SuSE to the module that drives that particular card. It's interesting to see what is picked up by each installer, or even each script within the installer as I work with the different distros.

Ah well, another adventure for the weekend...


Hmmm... Is this fortuitous or what? I arrived home today at the front end of a three day weekend to find Bo's book had arrived. Way cool. Now to check those clouds...

We're off to church for an Easter egg hunt this morning. ...and up way too early for me to use the term 'bright'. But I'll survive to nap again another day...

In continuing news, the Daynotes portal is back up; that's a temporary fix until some DNS bits are twiddled. Then we'll be up at http://daynotes.org. I'll change the master links on this page once that change is in effect.

I'll check in later after some housekeeping...

 Enjoy your Easter Sunday! 

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