“Vista’s Security Honeymoon Is Over”

2007.04.11
Categories : weildingthestick

we’re back in business

2007.02.27

Commenting is working again, so all of you with pent up comments can fire at will.

i work with lunatics (and i mean that in the nicest possible way) . . . .

2006.12.18

This is what they do to my office when i take a few days off.

Categories : weildingthestick

don’t believe your gui

2006.05.28

“ftp story to follow” following

server story II: back in in early April (literally around April Fools) our server went hinky on me. The initial symptoms were that it was incredibly sluggish (literally minutes for response to mouse movements) and the hard drive reporting that there was 0KB available on the hard drive; it’s not the biggest hard drive in the world but there is usually about 120GB available (approx. 120,000,000 KB) available. first thing i did was delete a bunch of crap (there’s a surprising amount of that on a departmental server); in a few hours it was full again. after about 3 days of fairly steady work on it i discovered the problem (it was replicating itself ONTO itself instead on onto another hard drive as per design) but that’s not the story.

The story is this: since then the server has been fairly stable, all the services chugging along as expected EXCEPT ftp has been out of order. our few long-suffering ftp users have been (outwardly) patient and, well, long-suffering, during the 7 weeks since then. they’ve been transfering files from on campus, where other transfer protocols are more available to them, and otherwise hobbling along getting their stuff done even though their tech support guy has been useless.

problem is that the server says that ftp is working fine; it just claims that no one has tried to access it via ftp since March 30th (you notice how i anthropomorphize the server? that can’t be good, huh?), so troubleshooting is made very difficult. I can’t get any of the usual diagnostic tools to find anything because according to the server, it’s working just fine. It’s hard to find references to servers who think they’re working just fine but not (if you know what i mean) on the troubleshooting forums etc. i’ve been frequenting. i’ve been doing the legwork but no luck. and i have to be honest: in 7 weeks a lot of other stuff has come up and distracted me from this puzzle and aside from our few long-suffering ftp users being long-suffering, they are also, well, few. so my attention to this puzzle has been spotty, a few days of frenzied forum searching (lots of that), manual reading (completely useless), phone calling (i know the phone numbers of very few osx server admins), reconfiguring services (aka blindfolded dart throwing), and mumbling to myself (and others), followed by a few days of blissfully forgetting about the problem because something else exploded elsewhere, and then back . . . .

so, now for the completely anti-climatic ending: the other day i am up and awake (sort of) at 5:30am (i have elderly dogs, nuff sed) and get an email from one of the LSFTPUs in response to my earlier email about the web network services being restored:

by no means do i mean to nag, but what about ftp?

i wrote him a quick response, telling him that I’d recently been consulting with other tech guys about it and they seemed equally perplexed (perplexedness loves company). after i sent off this useless missive, i decided to search the forums again: no new responses to my posts, but i did find a few new inquiries from other users that described similar problems (all of them happening in late March/early April (cue X-Files theme music)) and one lone response. turns out there was actully nothing wrong with the server perse but it was reading a corrupt configuration file deep down in the bowels of the system that was telling it that all the log ins were incorrect, so the server was believing a corrupted file, and i was believing the server’s gui—the tech guy equiv of the blind leading the blind.

so what is the moral of this story? i have no idea.

but ftp is working.

Categories : weildingthestick

reflections on being the monkey

2006.05.27

yesterday we had one of those moments. the server (web function only) became unavailable on the network. for a while. a reasonably long while. no warning, no nuthin. well, actually i was fiddling with the hostreg tables beforehand but let’s not get into that. these things always seem to happen on fridays. or at least the day before I am planning to not be around. anyway, screwed the entire day.

but the ‘moment’ i’m talking about is one of those i’m-the-tech-guy moments. when i sit back and realize–usually with a sinking feeling–that i’m the techguy and that everyone around me thinks I know what i’m doing (moreorless). of course, they all (mostly) know my background and that I’m not a REAL IT professional (but i play one on tv!). i got this job because i was a writing teacher with some facility with technology and a willingness to stay at least a coupla days ahead of my colleagues in that regard. but somewhere along the way somebody (i have the sneaky suspicion it was me. at least partially.) began to drink the koolaid and have me do more than do workshops and maintain computers etc. and it’s not until the server goes down or some other equally stomach wrenching event that i have the urge to remind everyone (myself included) of my credentials: i’m just the monkey with the stick.

reminds me of a scene from Pirates of the Carribean (really love that movie): Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) are fencing, chasing each other all over the blacksmith shop where Turner works in a fun if overly choreographed hollywood swordfight. near the end of the scene, the naive Mr. Turner responds to a not-quite-cricket manuever from Sparrow with “You cheated!” Sparrow (Depp) responds by pointing to himself and saying “Pirate!”—as close to “duh!” as period piece can safely go. anyway (there is an anyway), that’s the scene i imagine: user, colleague, whoever, looks at me and says, “But you can fix it, can’t you!?!?!?” and I point to myself and say “English Major!”

so, server’s back up (actually always was. just a network communications thing) and all (almost; see ftp story to follow) is right with the world. and i’ve dodged another reality check. monkey gets to keep his stick.