Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Fun with symlinks

For those unix fans in the audience...
lrwxrwxrwx   1 root     other          1 Aug 13  2004 class -> ./

I did a 'cd class' eight times, and I STILL didn't find the data I was looking for.

Is that really the biggest concern?

As I was driving to work this morning, flipping through stations, I came across the ABC news on Paxton's radio station. The lady on the news was talking about Hurricane Katrina and all the damage. The station that got me thinking was "Power is out for a million customers. Without power, of course, there are no ATMs working, so there is no quick access to cash." Is quick access to cash really the most important reason to have power? WTF?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Activate this networking jack

I get annoyed when people tell me they want to use a certain computer on a certain networking jack. I say okay, and lookup the machine to find out what network it's in. Then, I pull open a big spreadsheet and trace the ethernet jack back to a switch and switchport. Then I ssh into the switch and check which network that switchport is on.

And find it was set properly to begin with, and would have worked all along. They didn't have to bother me at all, or have me go through the steps above.

In other words, if you tried it, and it didn't work, come to me to fix it. But, you don't waste your mechanic's time giving him a call in the morning and telling him you want to drive your car to work. You get in the car, put in the key, and if it doesn't turn over, THEN call him. Why should IT be different? Or, better yet, why shouldn't IT just work? I've devised a scheme to get around so many jack/vlan changes, but it's going to take a few months to implement it.

Why do so many people look for a handout instead of thinking things through themselves?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Calls May be Monitored for Quality Assurance, and to Make Sure You Don't Kill Anyone....

Ring, Ring...
"Not it!" We both yell at the same time, but I, being the chivalrous lad that I am, resignedly go to the caller ID.

Toll Free Call...

"Telemarketer! Hello, hello, hello? HELLO?"



"Please hold and our next available representative will be with you shortly." (Cue Muzak)

WTF? They're calling me, and putting me on hold? Maybe it's important. Maybe I've won a prize! Maybe I...



"Hello sir, my name is Blah McBabbles, and I'm calling on behalf of DirecTV. IwasjustwonderingifyouwouldbewillingtotakeasurveytodetermineyourcustomersatisfactionwithyourcurrentDirecTVsubscription. Itwillonlytakeaminute." (I swear she did NOT take a breath.)

"Uh, sorry honey, but y'all need to keep better records. I'm no longer a customer with DirecTV."


"Sorry for the inconvenience sir. Thank you for calling."

"Wait, I didn't call you... "


"What the heck was that all about?" she asks from the living room.

"Next time YOU get the telemarketer."

Loan forms

Some of you know I'm starting grad school in the fall, after a few years break from school. One of the perks of this arrangement in the financial realm is that I can defer my student loans while I'm a student. Knowing this means more discretionary income per month, I was diligent about getting the forms ready so as soon as I was scholarly again, the bills would go away. I wouldn't normally be that concerned, but hey, it's money.

So I filled out the form, and got a student to run it over to the appropriate university office (hey, rank still has its privileges.) Then I got a letter back from the Department of Ed telling me the form was incomplete and not authorized. (At this point it was hard not to be reminded of almost every insurance reimbursement I've ever had to fill out, where the first time they always say you filled something out wrong, just so it takes longer to file the claim and get you your money, but I digress...)

So, I printed the form again, paid special attention to the fields and made sure everything I could fill out was filled out. Then I went where I was told to take it. Which wasn't the right building. Semantically, I understand where the miscommunication happened, but I'm not taking blame. Luckily, a phone call and a run to the building next door to where I thought it was landed me at the admissions office to the form approved.

The receptionist has me wait, which I do, until a counselor can see me. She calls me back, and I explain I'm there to drop off a loan deferment form - and she tells me I don't need one. Yes, gentle readers, if I would have done absolutely nothing, my loans would still have gotten deferred. She was great, explaining the process, and how financial aid keeps sending people over with the form even though it's not necessary. 10 days after the semester starts, they upload the student roster to some loan clearinghouse thing, and the feds download the active students from that, and update their records without needing those pesky paper forms. I explained the rejection letter I got, and she said because it's electronic, they don't certify them. I guess I should be lucky they mailed mine in at all.

The "I can't believe that just happened" lesson to glean from all of this. Sometimes doing nothing is the best route.

In the library line

I was getting books from the library yesterday when the checkout line was getting very long. I was probably 8 back, and there 4-5 behind me -- too much for the two people working the desk. So, the kid leans under the counter and does something (I presume hit a doorbell, or a they're-robbing-the-bank switch,) and all of a sudden a swarm of people came out of the back area of the library. Suddenly, there was a 1:1 ratio of library workers to people waiting, and the line dissolved in no time, and then the library gnomes went back to their other duties. It took a total of maybe two minuts and everyone was on their way.

Normally, the ICBTJHs are because of stupid things, but I would really like to compliment the Champaign Public Library for having a system designed to keep me from waiting in line forever, and kudos to the kid who called for help. I wish grocery and department stores worked that way.

(Of course, if grocery and department stores worked like the library, I would already have the things I want on-hold at the front desk, and I only need to flash an ID and pick them up.) I find the Netflix model works well for books as well as movies.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Guest networking access

One of my work responsibilities involves getting visitors to the department network access and support during their stay. I was assigned this ticket, and laughing reassigned it to my boss (hey, I was going on vacation.) The name has been removed to protect the ignorant, and the emphasis is mine. Otherwise, I quote:

To whom this may concern:

My name is Joe Someuser, and I am a senior Software Engineering student at the University of Michigan - Dearborn. I am sending this e-mail to inquire about obtaining visitor network access on the UIUC campus during the weeks of August 15 - 26, 2005. Although my primary need for visiting UIUC will to be to assist my girlfriend with moving in for her Fall study abroad semester, I would like to do some work to prepare for research that I am doing this Fall semester at the University of Michigan - Dearborn, and these tasks will require secured remote access to my school network via SSH & SFTP).

If you have any comments or questions in regards to my network access needs and the nature of my research project, please feel free to contact me. Also, upon request, I can give you contact information of professor at my university for whom I am conducting this research. Thank you for your consideration and I will look forward to your reply!
I'm not sure how I would reply to this. What would you say to this? (Besides no.)

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Student parking

I park at work in a large parking deck. Campus parking has sectioned it off so that they sell student parking on the 5th and 6th floor; staff can park anywhere. The parking deck is massively under-utilized right now, meaning most of the staff park on the lower decks (2-3, the first deck is shops and ramps,) and the students fill the areas near the elevators on the 5-6 floors.

I often work late, and don't get back to my car until between 6-7pm. Anyone who drives on campus knows that the lots go 'free' after 5pm (4pm in the winter when it gets dark early.) If you're parking on campus after 5, park in any lot, whereever (as long as it's not a rental spot.) They don't police it until 2am on the weekdays. The parking deck is lot B4 - no different than any other lot on campus, except it's stacked concrete instead of a (paved|rock) lot.

So when I leave work, and see students driving all the way up to the 5th floor, I think they're stupid. They could park on two, or three... You don't need to go up to the top of the deck. Park closer, dumbasses.