So Yeah…

Been an interesting couple of months. Been to a few more hockey games – season is almost over 🙁 – and did change jobs. Made a trip to Texas, visited Baltimore as well for the first time. Kind of neat seeing where our national anthem was written. Still nothing from the old, lost friends… but whatever. Reconnected with a few other old friends I hadn’t seen in awhile. Impromptu New Years Eve party was a f’ing blast.

Baltimore pictures (NYE – you do NOT want to see… I left my camera unattended)

Baltimore 2011

Yeah, I know, talking abotu NYE 3 months later.

Even managed to hit two new disc golf courses in the last week or two. My normal course is under water!

In geocaching news – I got Treeboy started and man has he started. In ~ 3 months he managed to find more than I have in years, he’s even hidden a few. And you should really watch for some of his coming hide – in a word, devious. My mother and nephew started texting me the other day (yes, my mother ‘texts’ – a long way from not being able to set the time on the VCR) asking is I had any idea where a cache could be hidden 1,000 miles away from me. I think I helped, but she won’t tell me. She thinks it’ll be more fun for me to find it on my own…. a thinly veiled ploy to get me to come visit.

In movie news, I’ll just catch up here: my 4+ star ratings for the last couple of months: The Pacific, Despicable Me, Easy A (+++) How to Train Your Dragon, Winters Bone.

So work news: I changed jobs in the beginning of January. It’s…. interesting. I’m not entirely sure I love it. I’m not going to hate it, but it’s not my dream job. It’s home-based… which sounds good, but there’s many problems with that. Here’s a good summary – The Oatmeal: Working from Home
There is some loss of social interaction. The normal BS around the water-cooler, going to lunch with ‘the guys,’ and dealing with people on a day to day basis. I saw all that coming – no big deal. The fortune saved in gas, not having a daily commute, rolling out of bed at 7:55am (or later) and having the flexibility to go take care of things during the day have all been huge benefits. Ok, the bump in pay might have helped. Many people have said “I don’t have the discipline to work from home” – the one thing I didn’t see coming was having to have the discipline to NOT work from home. You’re so plugged in, it’s so easy to sit down and start working at 11 at night just because it’s there. It’ll be interesting in the coming months to see how I adapt – this is all very new for me. For those who know me, this is something of a career change. I’m working for a company you probably know… it’s just… different. I’m not doing the techy day to day stuff any more.

Should still be an exciting couple of months. Maybe I’ll update more than once a quarter in the coming months 😀

Dear Cisco,

Any ONE of those 32 zip-lock bags could have easily held all 32 SFPs.  I did not enjoy opening 32 bags, fishing through the instruction sheets, and still having to open 32 static bags.


I Came to Drop Bombs

Just fixed a problem that had been (unbeknownst to me) plaguing this place for who knows how long.

After rebooting a domain controller, the SQL servers would start throwing logon errors until it came back up.  Most of the errors were from IIS that use windows auth, a few errors even came from the app servers.  What made it especially tricky was that it really looked like a kerberos problem.  Depending on what machine you were looking at, you’d get an error like

Login failed for user ”. The user is not associated with a trusted SQL Server connection.

or maybe

Logon Failure:
Reason: An error occurred during logon
… it’d go on to tell you what was wrong with Kerberos

and one

The Kerberos subsystem encountered a PAC verification failure

I saw a few

The failure code from authentication protocol Kerberos was The specified user does not exist

Long story short – I looked and poked and Googled… I couldn’t seem to find anyone that had reported this problem before (and I’m usually pretty good at putting together search terms that get me what I want) until I finally found a KB article that fit my hunch of what was happening.  I don’t think I saw the “NO_SUCH_USER” code in any of the logs I looked through (maybe that’s what you get if you’re using NTLM?) but the rest of it sure sounded good.  I tried the work-around on the domain controllers first – stopping the netlogon service before rebooting – and didn’t get a single error.

I deserve a raise. 😀

‘Splain This

I’m adding a Windows 2008 RC2 (x64… if it matters) to an existing 2003 domain.  Join the domain, everything’s happy, run all my forestprep & domainprep goodness… but dcpromo kept shitting itself with:

“Failed to examine the active directory forest.  The error was: The operation cannot continue because the LDAP connect/bind operation failed: error: 58”

The only thing I could find was this page which suggested the local admin account password had to be the same as the forest root domain password.  Before I went through all the account renaming and hunting down the password (all your admin accounts get renamed, right?  And no one really has that password?) I decided to just disable the local admin account on the 2008 server first.  It worked.  “WTF?O” indeed.

Sons of Anarchy

I seriously just killed the entire first season of Sons of Anarchy in less than a week.  Partly because it’s a pretty good show, partly because there’s nothing else on my DVR, and partly because I’m flat broke and can’t go do anything else 😀 is seriously pissing me off.  I’m about to go to Netflix (or nothing)  My queue has been screwy for a month now – first they weren’t sending anything, then they sent two movies twice (one of which never showed up) and now it looks like they aren’t processing anything again.  And now I can’t do anything about it because I get an “Internal Server Error 500” when I try to edit my queue.  If I didn’t still get the 2 coupons a month good for a movie or a game, I would have canceled a long time ago.  As soon as they take that away, I will.  Besides, Netflix offers free streaming (have to pay BB for it) and I can stream to my PS3.

My kitchen remodel woes continue…. six months later.  The Blanco Cascade Super Single sink that I had put in now leaks.  From the little bit of looking around I’ve done, it’s happened before.  I thought these things were supposed to be tough as granite.  There’s a crack across the back that goes all the way through.  If I try to fill the sink with more than an inch of water it leaks.  These are not cheap sinks, they shouldn’t fail after 6 months.  They do offer a limited lifetime warranty… but they don’t cover labor.  They guys who originally put it in want $150 to swap them, and that’s if they don’t have to move the counters to do it.  And I don’t think they do the plumbing (which I can do, that’s no big deal) they only take the old sink out and put the new sink in.  Sigh.  To really cap everything off, the replacement sink showed up a few days ago… and it’s the wrong color.  They even asked for pictures of the existing sink, and still got it wrong.  The kitchen is really the only part of the whole thing that I hired someone to do parts of, and those parts have really been screwed up.

Ok… back to looking for a good hosted VMWare solution for DR.

My $26 Car Wash

I went to the Cascade Car Wash a few days ago.  My car was still covered in road salt and other Wintery goodness.  It’s a nice little wash – only two automatic bays, a little more expensive than other ones in the area, but it always seems to do a really nice job.  One bat was occupied so I pulled right into the other, put my $9 in the machine, and pulled in.  The under-carriage wash part didn’t actually spray anything so I just figured maybe I pushed the wrong button.  The “hot soap presoak” was dumped all over my car… then nothing.  The machine kept going back and forth and saying “… now rinsing with HIGH PRESSURE fresh water”  (I think the all caps is really supposed to impress the fact that it’s REALLY HIGH) but no water actually came out.  The spot-free rinse portion of the wash actually worked, but that doesn’t really rinse soap away very well.  Not to be discouraged, I pulled around to the other bay when I was finished.  I assume that the car that was in there before me didn’t have any problems, so maybe just the one side was broken.  There were a couple orange cones by the building so I stopped before I pulled in and blocked the bay I just went through.
Alas, the other side had the same problem.  So now I was out $18 and still had to go rinse my car off someplace.  I circled the building once more and blocked off that bay as well.  I’m really not sure why no one else did that.  I mean, the cones are right there… why wouldn’t you put them up so someone else doesn’t get screwed like you did?  I just don’t understand people … really, 30 seconds of your life to save countless other people the same inconvenient fate as you and you can’t be bothered to do it?!  The car wash as a commentary of the amount of selfish assholes in the world.
They had one of those signs on the back of the building “If you like us, tell a friend!  If you have problems, tell us!” wiith their phone number.  So I called, not expecting much.  Of course I got an answering machine.  I left my sad story, my phone number, and the fact that I blocked off both bays (with an apology if that wasn’t the right thing to do in their mind)  I headed off to the Bubble Brush Car Wash across town to see if I had better luck there… I didn’t have much of a choice, I at least had to go rinse my car someplace.
I’ve been avoiding this one ever since their automatic wash ripped me off and I couldn’t get so much as a return phone call from them.  I called 2 or 3 times and never got anywhere with it.  Yes, sometimes I hold a grudge over silly things… but this is one of those where them not calling me back just annoyed me.  I won’t go back and I badmouth them every chance I get (that’s the Bubble Brush Car Wash 322 Union Blvd … heh.)  They could have even just called and said “Sorry, but we don’t give refunds” and that I almost could have accepted.  Their wash does a crappy job anyway, and Cascade is a lot more convenient.
Imagine my surprise when I got a call the next day from Cascade.  He apologized a couple of times and even thanked me for blocking off the bays.  He said he had been on the phone for over 30 minutes calling all the people that had been ripped off, and mine was the last name on the list.  So at least I stopped the barrage of angry customers.  He gave me 3 car washes for my troubles.  I probably would have rather gotten my $18 back instead… but a free wash I guess is ok.  I mean, I did at least get soap twice … so my car is really clean now :D  I was just happy I got a call back and the guy was truly worried about his customers.  So thumbs up Cascade car wash guys 😀 …. I’m such a dork.

Let’s see…. what else is new?  Job is going really well.  I still call it my ‘new’ job even though it isn’t all that new.  I can’t believe I’ve been there 5 months already.  I guess it just still seems new to me – I’m still learning new things and meeting new people every day.  I just really can’t believe how well this has all worked out for me.  I still sometimes just walk into our data center and look around and just think “This is cool”  I still compare it a lot of times to my old job.  I think I do that a lot so people maybe have a better understanding of why I’m almost giddy about the whole thing.  Hell, at my old job I couldn’t get a UPS approved for a single server and here I have a whole freakin’ APC InfraStruXure setup.  I put the finishing touches on a new VMWare ESX server yesterday that will eventually host more servers than the entire server room I used to be responsible for.  And we do things that make sense – there’s been probably a dozen occasion where I see something we do and I think “Huh, I tried to implement that at my old job and it always got shot down”  It just makes you feel good when after a couple of years of feeling beat down and like you didn’t know what you were doing, you finally feel appreciated.  So yeah… everything from actually being trusted to use my brain, being in the size of environment that I want to be in, learning something new all the time, the laid-back (most of the time) atmosphere.  I think I even get along socially with a greater percentage of people here.  Nothing against anyone I worked with before… it just wasn’t an environment conducive to any real social interaction.  Hell, I’ve been to my director’s house to play cards – in 10 years at the other place I don’t think I ever saw the inside of a “higher-up’s” house.  I’m actually considering getting back into some self-learning stuff again.  Might continue with my Cisco certifications… makes it worthwhile when you can actually use it and you’re recognized for trying to better yourself and your skills.
Ok, I’ll shut up now… it just honestly hasn’t worn off yet :D  It’s just nice to enjoy my job again… I highly recommend it.  Probably too much sometimes – but it’s hard to not share or hide it when you’re having a good time.  I make no apologizes if my happiness offends you.  I’m not trying to boast or anything… pretty much everything I put on here is for my own benefit.  Sometimes I’ll go back through this “Secret Public Journal” of mine to remind myself of where I’m going and where I’ve been.  If nothing else, it’s been an interesting trip so far.

Drinking From a Firehose

Two weeks into the new job, and the spinning my head was doing is finally starting to slow.  It’s a lot to take in, but I think I’m doing pretty good.  Part of the reason I was sad to leave my old position was because of all the new ‘toys’ we had just ordered, and some of the things we had put in place.  That suddenly doesn’t bother me at all because all of that stuff (and then some) already exist at this new place.  It does suck that all the work I had put into researching, spec’ing, and ‘selling’ the project was for nothing… but c’est la vie.

I’m glad that my skills seem to be scaling well – for a company that has maybe 5 times as many employees, the network infrastructure is 10 times the size of where I came from.  The only technology they employ that I haven’t had in a production environment before is VOIP – and I’m at least pretty familiar with that.  So most of the learning right now is just how things are done and getting a grip on the layout.  I’ve actually been able to fix a couple of things that they had given up on fixing — the guys I work with seem pretty sharp, so I’m sure they would have eventually gotten it they just didn’t really have time.  I’m really thankful that I have a job that I enjoy again.  It’s stressful, but in a good way.  The stress comes from trying to get up to speed and be useful at the same time.  The director told me he didn’t expect me to really be productive for a month, but for my own sense of self-worth I give myself higher expectations than that.  Before, the stress was created by a number of things: not knowing if I’d have a job (before they actually told us we wouldn’t); wondering what dumb-ass decision they’d make next; not being able to stand a few of the people I had to work with; and being expected to adequately perform my job within the constraints that were placed on me.  Good example of that last one – I showed one of the guys I work with a set of network management tools I had played around with before that I thought would be useful.  Someone else saw it and said “It’s $1,000?  Just buy it.” That’s a 180 from where I came from.  I couldn’t get $50 without pulling teeth, even if I could show that it would pay for itself 10 times over.  It’s odd to actually have diagnostic, troubleshooting, and monitoring tools at my disposal now.

Speaking of 180s – the culture here is just fun.  Granted, I came from a financial services company and this one is a little different… but I think any company can and should be a ‘fun’ place to work.  No one walks past the offices at 8:00 and 5:00 to see who’s there and who isn’t (and yes, that routinely happened at the old place).  Hell, the first few days I walked in at 8:00 the place was almost empty.  You’ll see people wearing jeans and t-shirts… I have yet to see a tie.  They have an internal rewards program where people give you points for doing something extraordinary that you can redeem for anything from electronics to camping gear.  Friday I thought maybe I had gotten off on the wrong floor because the door I usually go in had red carpet leading up to it and a velvet rope across it.  Nope, this was part of their Halloween party.  The lobby of my floor had been converted into a dance club complete with a disco-ball, music, and people dressed up in polyester bell-bottoms.  Then there was the whole department that had become a circus – popcorn, peanuts, midway games, (people dressed like) animals, and a freak show.  This is not your average office environment.  They even closed the office at 4:00 to have their “Monster’s Ball” at a bar down the street.  The VP of HR saw me there and said “Are you ready to bail yet?”  I said “Nope… this is completely different from what I’m used to, and I like it.”   I never did feel like I fit in at the old place.  Even after 10 years… that kind of stuffy environment where the ‘fun’ is forced and appearances are everything just never sat right with me.  The amount of BS, politics, and lip-service that went on there just drove me insane.  I’m not all optimistic here or anything… I’m sure some of that still exists, just not to an extreme.

I guess that’s enough of that… one of these days I’ll get out of the work category and back to more fun stuff.

That was easy…

On Sept 20th I was told I wouldn’t have a job as of December 31st. I had a second interview with a company I had interviewed with a few weeks before on Sept 24th. On the 28th I had an offer, and on Oct 1 I told my current employer that my last day would be the 5th (they talked me into staying until the 9th) … I start my new job on the 15th.

I guess they really didn’t expect me to find something that fast (and it wasn’t that fast – I had obviously already been looking) hence the “… can you stay until the 9th?” Not sure what they thought they’d get out of two more days, but I did make the offer. I was trying to be nice, I told them I was flexible by a few days to make it easier for them. I realize I didn’t give them two weeks notice, but they had already said I wasn’t needed, so two weeks seemed silly. I thought I was helping / saving them money. Guess it wasn’t seen that way… oh well. Never planning on going back there anyway or asking anyone of importance there for a reference – they’re pretty much the laughing stock of the business community around here right now anyway.  And since they let the 3 of us go, they let another one go and another one pretty much walked out.  And I’m sure there’ll be more – morale is at an all-time low, they’re making messed-up decisions, and it’s just not a good feeling to be there.

It’s weird – I’m happy and sad. It’s what I would imagine a divorce would be like – you know it’s for the best, but it’s still hard to leave. I’ve been there for 10 years… it’ll be strange going 1/2 block down the street now instead. But if this is a divorce, I just picked up a genius 24 year old that could be a model. The new job seems to be a better company, better pay, better position… everything. And the timing was just perfect. I still don’t completely believe it, it seems too good to be true. I’m not sure why I’m a little bitter about the whole thing – I was looking to leave anyway. I guess there’s a little sense of failure involved – what could I have done better so they would have at least wanted to keep me instead of who they picked? I know the answer to that… I think the deciding factor was an idiotic one. And even if they had kept me, I would have left anyway – I wouldn’t stick around to deal with the maelstrom that’s going to hit that place. I think I would have just preferred to do it all on my terms.

I’m really looking forward to this new position. I’m excited and a little nervous. I’ll miss most of the people that I’ve worked with over the last few years… and I’m actually a little concerned for them. The company is obviously heading downhill, and the driver just keeps giving it gas. I mean seriously – who in their right mind would lay off / be planning to lay off like 20% of your workforce, then turn around and hire your own daughter?! It’s just doesn’t seem right. I honestly want the company to do well because of most of the people there… I’m just afraid it won’t. However, the people that I like there are a pretty talented group that will land on their feet. The people I don’t like there are crazy morons, and I would laugh at their self-created misfortune. I just don’t think you can treat people like they have… I’m not a huge believer in karma or anything… more of a “hoper” I guess. 😀

We’ll see. Should be a new, interesting chapter in my life. Another exciting adventure. I’m sure I’ll keep an eye on the old one and see if my gut feeling turns out to be true.

You’ve got to be f’ing kidding…

That was the first thought that went through my mind last Thursday morning.  After 10 years at this company I was told I would no longer be needed as of December 31st.

I knew a few weeks ago that this day might come.  The officially announced their intention to replace all the in-house programming we’ve done for the last 20 years with an off-the-shelf product.  I thought I’d probably be ok – after all, this project was going to increase my responsibilities.  But I knew if they weren’t real bright, they’d do things a different way.

They did things a different way.

I really don’t think they understand what they’re doing.  They’ve left one guy in the department to basically do all the work.  I think they’re planning on bringing in contractors (it helps to have friends in the business that recognize your company’s name) but that’s not going to work out well – it’s not a vanilla environment here.  And people here are used to a quick response, they won’t do well with “We’ll be out tomorrow to fix your problem.”

I’m trying to be nice about this.  There’s a ton that just pisses me off, but I’m not sure how much good it would do to vent it here.  Everything from how they came to the decision (and by ‘they’ I mean one person overrode the majority vote) to the sorry excuse for a severance package they’re offering.

I should be thankful for a couple of reasons.  They could have given us no warning (we saw it coming anyway) or absolutely no severance.  And actually, if they would have kept me to do everything on my own, I probably would have left on my own anyway.

I know I’ll be ok.  I’ve been through this before and came out ahead, I’m sure I will again.  I’ve been looking for a change for a little while anyway, this is just the kick in the butt I needed.  Out of all of us that they let go, I’m probably in the best shape (one guy they’re letting go just had his first child) — I think I’m more upset that I won’t be working with some of the people I’ve met here anymore.  There’s a bit of sadness that I think is normal.  I’ve been here almost my entire “professional” life.  You get a little attached after 10 years.  This will be good though… something new, better, exciting.  I don’t know how good it will be for this company though.  I hope it works out, mainly because of most of the people left here.  I fear that it won’t because of the incompetence of a select few.  Maybe more on that later… I think I might have to sign something saying I won’t badmouth them 😀