A Poutpourri and the GFC.

It’s felt like a long week so far but I must admit I’m faring better than some – I’m looking over resumes for friends at the moment ( I think I’ve seen more skill matrices than shell prompts today!) who’ve lost work over the past few weeks due to the GFC – redundancies and in one case a business owner who took it as an opportunity to sell up and give his entire staff a week’s notice! If the financial crisis has left you out of work, keep your chin up and don’t lose hope.

I feel that between Bacula’s rotation and volume management keeping me on my toes (tip to the new – RTFM twice, then it makes perfect sense), slavery involving OpenLDAP and MySQL (I should consider Fedora Directory Server and DRBD for master-master replication, but first things first..) and Puppet configuration management (manna from heaven for an admin’s sanity especially if you have more than a handful of servers) I’ve achieved something so far this week. 🙂

Regarding the latter package I’ll put up any useful facts/recipes I write up that work – you have my word. Reductivelabs have a number, but there’s a few omissions that I and perhaps some of you may find handy.

Building some Ruby gems has not been so successful, and if anyone has been successful in rebuilding RPMs of hpricot / json gems on Red Hat Enterprise Linux I’d be interested in your tale.

I’ve mitigated (fixed is the wrong word) my Koji issues, but not in the way I’d like. 🙁 At least I have more information  to work with and things are running in the meantime.

Dan Walsh’s post on confining services through SELinux is definitely getting printed and stuck on my workmates’ noticeboard. I’ve seen a lot of instances where SELinux is switched off instead of thought through and used correctly, which is unfortunate so anything that encourages changes in that behaviour that is a plus :-). It’s not voodoo and it won’t eat your brane, so especially if you have services is sensitive / “wild side” areas the time taken to learn it will be well spent.

Now to sort out those WSGI socket AVC’s of mine… 🙂

Where to from here?

I seem to have found myself at a crossroads. Not a personal one (well, not really) but hobby / professional. Make of that what you will.

Firstly, I’ve been doing IT support and systems administration for a living for nigh on nine years now. I’d been a Linux tinkerer well before then (I got into mail systems first due to spam fighting; Sendmail and UNIX / Linux with Slackware back in 1997). I did a long stint doing Windows Server systems admin – which is actually fairly interesting tech sometimes, even if it can be clunky and buggy – and do Red Hat for a living again now.

But it can get old. Over the years IT has become something of a “regular” service, the support staff and admin like janitors and there’s no glamour in the job. Depending on the area and your businesses’ line of work there’s fewer interesting “toys” to tinker with. This describes my situation well.

In short I think I need a good project to sink my teeth into. DotProfile is doing things I’ve already done to death (XMPP and messaging  / DNS) and I’m not really a programmer per se. I’ve done OpenID, as you can see here. Ditto IPv6, also on show here. My infrastructure does DKIM, GeoIP, SPF, greylisting, XMPP. I’ve even had a disasterous run as a Tor exit node.

I’ve been asked if I’d do webhosting – no thanks; there are far too many kids (in the literal and figurative sense) overselling their little VPS to small business for a razor-thin profit. I don’t want to get in amongst that shit, I take pride in quality servers and reliability.

Even the package repository for Fedora feels thin. There’s only so much out there in the way of interesting software to package, and even new packages in Fedora proper are getting a little obscure. I suspect most of my users are here for Courier IMAP anyway 😉

I do memcached at work (and I’m building libmemcached in the background here, just because) but I personally have little use for it. Do I go back to my usenet roots and run INN? (Am I that much of a masochist? I remember cyclic overview rebuilds even now, they weren’t fun). I suck at art so design is out, and I just can’t consider being a bigger blogger / pundit or SEO hack without laughing at the thought. Cloud computing? Yes please – but how / who will bankroll? 🙂

I’m a systems architect at heart. /me needs a challenge, fast.

(Or I end up getting ITIL / PRINCE2 qualifications, sell out and become management ;-))

Unfortunate circumstances…

Thought I’d post a quick update seeing that’s it’s been a while.

Firstly, I am again looking for work. I’m not going to go into detail other than to say I’m extremely disappointed and will be very careful who I work for in the future. If anyone in Brisbane (or doesn’t mind a telecommuter) needs a systems architect / administrator who does some infrastructure hacking, let me know; my credentials and experience are in my LinkedIn profile (and I’m happy to send a resume to anyone requesting one :-))

I’m also considering doing some consultancy work relating to subsets of my expertise. Watch this space. Be warned, I’m probably going to be out of the price range of two-bit shops and Mickey Mouse fly-by-nighters, which is fine with me.

I’d like to get paid and work with people that take this stuff seriously; there are just too many cowboys who go into IT businesses with no experience or understanding, with the sole purpose of making big profits while paying staff / contractors peanuts (and / or hire monkeys :-P). I’ve found you get what you pay for in systems operations fields and these characters invariably give their customers sub-par service.

Secondly, updates to Fedora / CentOS are pending while the Fedora Infrastructure team sort things out. There seemed to be some major breakage (hopefully not a breach of some sort) and a lot of restoration work has been happening, but it looks like all will get sorted out. Good work there folks. Once the dust has settled I’ll be pushing out some more timely updates.


Work: Is going well. Security and fixup work at the moment, a nice mailserver build (learning a bit about I/O kernel elevators) and miscellanea.

Life: My love is back from interstate with all of her needed gear. Catching up with old friends from school via Facebook of all places. Another old wound crossed off The List (no, my name is not Earl, but thanks Louise :-))

Hopefully I’ll have paid off the flashy jacket soon, can’t wait to give it some airings out on the town.

Went down the coast with my love and her half-sister – stayed mostly sober and enjoyed it immensely. The sore head I had afterwards wasn’t so much an issue.

Tech: Qbert is in HostingShop/Dedicated Server’s datacentre. MelbIT have released thatfleminggent.com’s DNS to me, which means I’ve taken over control of the zonefile (with zoneedit.com/SAGE-AU as secondaries for this and other domains under my control). I can now add all the funky records that MIT’s notoriously under-trained techs have no idea of, like SPF and SRV records. The latter meaning I can now do XMPP/Jabber properly and I can do VoIP/SIP if I wish (and plan to). I’m fairly happy about that.

Packge-wise, just updates for standard packages (more are going into Fedora proper, but more slowly). I am packaging for CentOS now that outrun is online (see my servers page) and I encourage folks to use it if they like.

Ups and downs.

Heh, a month between posts? I must be getting slack.

Things have mostly improved. I am again gainfully employed in a systems architecture / infrastructure development type role with Dedicated Servers / Hosting Shop here in Brisbane. It means less systems admin work (and the downsides like insane hours and being tied to a pager / mobile for work purposes) and more interesting development and new-toy type tinkering.

It’s based in the CBD too so it’s a short-ish commute, and their 2 DC’s (a small one in an office block a few streets over – coincidentally where qbert is now stored  – as well as a larger one in the main office building) are easy to get to.

On the Fedora front, the Sulphur repo is chugging along, with the F7 repo now officially being retired. As I’ve got CentOS boxes I’m packaging more for that too (mainly release 5 i386/x86_64). I’ve restored sinistar to my in house network and added – lord knows why, must have been drunk – a Solaris 10 box.

Offline life -wise things have been interesting. I’ve been using Facebook for about 9 months now (my old flatmate Steve got me on to it initially, but only started using serious since I met Meisha) and have re-connected with a group of old school friends and classmates, including a few I’d not expected (one initially found me on Myspace, which I generally don’t use too much – I pointed her at Facebook so she could reach my brother)

I’m spending less time on the ‘net and PCs in general – figured I need a break. Only exceptions to this are for some gaming (Call Of Duty 4, Need For Speed, Grand Turismo 4 on the PS2) and chatting with friends who happen to see me on IM.

I’m changing my look too – I’ve grown a soul patch and am looking to get the highlights back in my hair (had blond-ish highlights after my birthday, but they’ve grown out to an extent and aren’t prevalent after a recent haircut.). I’ve also got a nice jacket on layby which I’ll hopefully pick up soon. Thanks again to Meish for all the style tips 😀

I promise to assail you all with photos once I’ve done all this…

Downside: My 6 year old titanium glasses frame snapped this afternoon (while reading Facebook, hah) and I’m off to get another set of frames tomorrow morning. I could do without the hassle (why do these things happen on a Sunday, and when I can least afford them?) but I like being able to see..

Much is happening (not much of it good…)

Well – what can I say?

I’ve suddenly have some free time on my hands, however not the way I’d intended (some holidays). My employer decided – very suddenly I might add, over a coffee @4pm last Tuesday afternoon – to make me redundant as of the 13th of May.

I wasn’t given any warning and frankly it’s a right pain in the arse (having just renewed a lease on my apartment for six months and trying to fix up and sell one of my own) but I’ll hopefully survive.As those who have worked with me and know me can attest I’m not omniscient but what I know, I know well. I’ve been assured that performance was never an issue, merely one of cost (alas, some of my colleagues went with me, they finished today..)

Fortunately it seems the jobs market for systems administrators is good, so I don’t think I’ll be unemployed for long. I would really like to look more at systems/infrastructure architecture and perhaps some product engineering (I planned, tested, wrote the backend scripts for, built, installed and configured Webcentral/MelbourneIT’s managed MySQL offerings and I’ll wager I still know more about them than many working there now :-)). If you have an opening you think might interest me (ideally in the South Brisbane/CBD area) email me. You might also be interested to peruse my LinkedIn profile.

Just as I got the bad news some new kit arrived to replace the Sempron64 kit in defender. It’s now an Athlon64 5200+, with a nice new Gigabyte AM2+/780G board, 2G of Corsair RAM and an ASUS NVIDIA 8800GS (yeah, should have gone GT, but given the circumstance the price was right). The onboard NIC has a tendency to clash with other interrupts so I’ve slotted my old GA311 in it’s place. I’m using it now so it works OK (advice: if you flash the BIOS, clear the CMOS afterwards as I’ve had the Award F4 revision lock up a bit before doing so)

The change in mobo necessitated an XP reinstall (right PITA, see my Twitter updates.) but fortunately Fedora was semi-intelligent about it; as a precaution (and because I was planning to anyway) I’m on Fedora 9. More on that in the future. I have noticed that createrepo is busted – I’ve had a couple of emails so I’m aware and have worked around it, which is also why I’ve not done F9 builds yet.

Hopefully things improve as I spend some time with my sweetheart (who has been very supportive) and consider offers/positions with a good, secure employer.