All articles, tagged with “the biz never sleeps”

email issues

Some kind soul decided to dump SEVENTY-EIGHT THOUSAND spam messages destined for a domain I provide backup mail service for onto my server.

Mail to or from me, or any domain hosted on my server, may be a bit laggy for the next few hours as I dig throught he mess.

Remember: kneecapping spammers is a mitzvah.

wanted: a geek

Needed: one senior solaris sysadmin-type geek in the NYC area, looking for full-time or 6-12 month contract work. Must be a fast thinker, quick on your feet, with a strong knowledge of perl, bash, apache and the rest of the usual unixy toys.

If this sounds like you, or someone you know, drop me a line.

The holy grail: RT and Windows Server Single Sign-On

(My non-geeky readers can avert their eyes now. Trust me, you will not find this interesting.)

A lot of people use RT to track helpdesk requests, problem reports and other incident data at their jobs. An even larger number of people use or are forced to use Microsoft Active Directory as the central repository of username and password information at their jobs. As a result, probably the single most-asked question on the rt-users mailing list is “how do I unify logins between RT and ActiveDirectory?” Strangely, it’s a question that seems to lack an authoritative answer.

Until now. Ladies and gentlemen, I proudly present:

The holy grail: Single Signon RT with Active Directory

the joys of hindsight

(Severe nerdery ahead; turn off now.)

John Gruber (no, not the arch-kook of late-1990s Usenet: that was John Grubor) has a great article up on his site talking about one of the great shibboleths of this industry.

In a nutshell, if you ask any geek, industry pundit, or even a random person on the street, “What did Apple do wrong in the 1980s?” they’ll pretty much all say the same thing, because it’s been repeated so many times that it’s become Received Wisdom:

“Apple should have licensed the Macintosh OS, or ported it to Intel hardware.”
Everyone “knows” this: if Apple had just ported the MacOS over to the PC AT and/or licensed it to all comers, they would be Microsoft now.

Now, Gruber goes into a great number of the reasons why this is nowhere near so “obvious” as it seems, and he’s entirely right about them. (I won’t rehash his points here: go read it yourself.) But to my mind, he’s forgotten the most obvious case against this argument: other people did this, and it didn’t work.

GEM. GEOS. DesqView. DesqView/X. Remember any of these names? Unless you’re a pretty hardcore geek, the odds are that you don’t, and that’s fine, because there’s no reason you should: in greater or lesser degree, they all did the same thing (put a vaguely Mac-like interface onto a standard desktop PC circa 1986), and they were all, in the long run, total failures. Digital Research, Berkely Softwarks and Quarterdeck Software, their respective makers, are all historical footnotes now: long-dead or absorbed into larger firms.

Heck, for at least a few years there, even Microsoft couldn’t sell a graphical interface on a PC to save their lives. Remember Windows 1.0? Windows 2.0? Windows 386? If you’re lucky, you don’t. If you had to use any of them, I’m sorry.

Seriously: if “an integrated GUI desktop on a commodity PC hardware platform” were really all that you had to create in order to make yourself into the Richest Company Ever, then by all rights Digital Research Inc should be a world-straddling colossus right now, and Microsoft a piddling vendor of second-tier office productivity software. But that’s now how it worked out, and people looking for glib explanations for Apple’s shifting fortunes would do well to look elsewhere.

we want…information…

For the “benefit” of whatever person will succeed me at my current job, I’m assembling a list of questions that will be presented as a quiz to all applicants. Basically, the idea here is that if you really are a 5-to-7-year UNIX sysadmin, you should probably know a lot of this stuff off the top of your head.

  1. On a Sun Solaris system, how do you promote an NIS client to an NIS slave server?

  2. On Sun Solaris, how do you create a central mail relay smarthost without changing the sendmail configuration on any other machine?

  3. On Sun Solaris, how do you change the order of name resolution between DNS, NIS and the local hosts file?

  4. (Followup) How might you do this on a system that doesn’t support the Sun/SVR4 method?

  5. On Sun Solaris, how do you reset all network-related configuration information?

  6. How do you non-destructively reset the root password on a Sun server who’s root pw has been lost? Assume that you have Solaris installation media.

  7. On Red Hat Linux, how do you assign a static address to an interface which is currently assigned an address by DHCP?

I solicit from my geeky friends: got any other questions that you think should be asked? Think that any of these questions are horribly unfair?

N.B.: I’m looking for questions that can be answered, definitively, by a series of steps/commands. More open-ended stuff like “describe some key differences between FreeBSD and Solaris” is, to my mind, more suited to the actual in-person interview itself.

consumatum est

It’s official: on 6/21/04, I will be the new Director of Information Technology at Money Media, Inc.

I am parting from my old job on good terms, and would love nothing better than to bequeath my position to someone I like and trust not to break everything I built. So if you are a mid-to-senior-level UNIX systems administrator who’d like to work for a small, friendly and fast-paced internet company in the New York City area, please send me your resume so that I can hand it over to the powers that be here.

go ahead

exit planet dust

Okay, haven’t had an excuse to rant about something in the `biz for a while now. It’s time.

As part of my usual morning’s devouring of media sources, I browed through The Register. El Reg is the tech world’s scandal sheet, and it’s consistently entertaining, but only intermittently informative. Most of their writers are Brits, but since they’re writing about the IT industry, they employ a couple of stringers out in California, that being kinda ground zero. Anyway, one of those stringers is Andrew Orlowski, and today the Register leads off with another one of his stories on Apple’s iTunes Music Store. The article is here. Go ahead and read it, I’ll wait.

Back? Okay, good.

There’s a problem here. And the problem is that Andrew Orlowski is, point-blank, an idiot. This is at least the third article he’s written for the Register harping on this very same point, and it’s just as daft now as it was the first time.

According to Orlowski, there’s some mass ideological movement converging behind the idea of compulsory copyright licensing for music, and only that dastardly Steve Jobs and his evil plan to use iTMS as a trojan horse to deliver eeeeeevil DRM technology to The Poor Exploited Children Of The World is standing in the way of this incipient technolegal nirvana.


Outside of a few techno-utopian bloggers, there is zero momentum in any arena that matters for compulsory music licensing. The labels don’t want it, Congress isn’t even considering it, and even the artists most associated with a liberal position on mp3 file trading aren’t pushing it as a solution. The reason is simple: the “vast pool of wealth” with which to compensate artists that compulsory licensing would allegedly create, would have to be administered by someone, and all of the options for that are head-explodingly awful. Sure, Bono and Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson will get paid no matter what, but how, precisely, is your local pub band supposed to determine what percentage of that pool is rightfully theirs, and who is going to be empowered to make that decision?

Slotcar Hatebreath, a writer for the defunct and sadly missed Suck used to joke that one day the federal government would subsidize artists to not produce art in the same way that it currently pays farmers to not grow food. It’s hard to envision any scheme for compulsory music compensation that doesn’t come eerily close to making that joke a reality.

And of course… the United States is just one country: how in the name of god could this be made to work internationally, considering that most of the world’s states are signatories to treaties that have rather bound their hands in regard to how copyright laws are implemented?

Meanwhile, back on planet Earth, Apple has actually managed to implement a system that satisfies the record labels’ paranoia and makes sure that the artists get their cut without overburdening the end-user with useless restrictions, and it turns out that the consumers like it just fine. This appears to piss off Orlowski something fierce, I guess because it’s depriving him of a windmill to tilt at.

the white-hot hate of a thousand burning suns (of hate)

I’m going to type out a longer version of this when I am no longer so angry that I can barely see straight. For now, a small announcement before I disappear down the rabbit-hole of packing again:

Verizon sucks.
Yes, I realize that this is not exactly what you would call earth-shattering news, but after several years of basically managing to live my life in a manner which involved as little contact as humanly possible with the pigfuckers, I am once again locked in a deadly embrace with the bastards, and each passing second only serves to remind me more and more why I was incredibly happy to spend the better part of five years not being their victimcustomer.

If you happen to be one of the many people who use my server ( for web hosting, email, or other services, and have noticed recently that it is, how to put this delicately, sucking shit through a straw, all I can say is: I know. Oh god do I know. I know exactly what the problem is. I know exactly what Verizon needs to do to fix it. I know exactly how long it will take them to perform this action once they actually bestir themselves to do so. (Fifteen seconds, including coffee breaks and travel time.) What I do not know is when they are going to do it. Because in order for me to know that, they would have to return any of the phone calls that I am now making on an hourly basis, and have been making for the last two days.

But they’re not going to do that. Not until they’re good and ready. After all, they’re the only DSL provider in all of 10034. And Congress happily rewrote the laws for them last year so that they will always be the only DSL provider in 10034. And they already have my money. So why on earth should they care? I guess I can’t think of a reason either.

The true agony here is that I had to call XO to cancel my Brooklyn DSL line today. The poor woman on the line asked me why I was doing this, and I nearly had a nervous breakdown at her.

blub blub blub

So just about a month ago exactly, my office building caught on fire, for the second time this year. Nobody was hurt and nothing on our floor was damaged, but it was a little unnerving that once again the smoke detectors did not work.

Flash-forward to this morning, when I dragged my bleary Monday-averse body into work, to be told upon walking in the door that we were now undergoing…a flood.

Sure enough, one of the building AC units had dumped about 2 inches of water into the 6” space underneath the raised floor. Where all of our power cables run. To all of our servers.

Ten minutes of crazed effort later, we had the power to pretty much everything in the office shut down, and now I am back home until 6am, at which point allegedly the flood recovery company that we called (there are flood recovery companies, huh) claims that they will have enough of the water and assorted crud removed that we can consider turning things back on.

So, within a month, fire and flood. Obviously next it will be the RAIN OF FUCKING FROGS. Oh well, at least the tadpoles will have a nice little pond in which to swim. Underneath my servers.

Tell me again why I am not a yak herder?