feren: Feren smoking (atomicfiction_ferensmoking)
This morning my home PC scolded me for moving several directories. Except... I hadn't done that at all. I checked it out and sure enough, my 1TB drive (d:) isn't showing up. Reboots got nothing to change. I powered the machine down, ran errands, came home... and now my machine is stuck on the Windows start up splash screen. I'll give it another 30 minutes before I power cycle the thing.

It's been a very long week.
feren: Feren in profile (sakuranym_profile)
On the Thursday evening drive home from work the Expedition was acting rather oddly. It was stumbling on acceleration, had an uneven idle and generally felt like one of the cylinders was misfiring. Halfway through the commute the Check Engine Light (CEL) illuminated, which didn't surprise me -- after all, the engine was clearing having a problem. What was more vexing was that immediately after lighting up the CEL started flashing. I'm not sure about other OBD-II equipped vehicles, but on a Ford that flashing means something has gone seriously awry. Eventually the light stopped flashing and went back to steady illumination, which eased my mind a bit that I wasn't about to drop a piston on I-88 right in the middle of Downer's Grove.

Being who I am I did, of course, hope that it was simply a random happenstance. The Expy is sometimes a fickle truck and it's been known to have the odd misfire that happens one day and then disappears the next, not to return for a year or more. Friday's drive to and from the office confirmed that this is, unfortunately, not the case. I haven't put the code scanner on the truck yet, but I'm relatively certain it's the same ailment that has befallen that engine before: the ongoing failures of the coil pack on cylinder number eight. This is something of a "known bug" on this particular year (1998) and model of engine (Triton v8 5.4L). I've replaced this coil pack at least twice before, so if I get back "Misfire on Cylinder 8" from the OBD scanner I won't be in the least surprised. However, it's about 3 degrees below freezing outside and I don't have a level surface to work on (read: the garage is full of Stuff, as it has been for the last few years) and I don't relish the idea of receiving frostbite on my fingers or breaking something that's plastic inside the engine compartment. So this time around I'll be sending the Expedition off to a mechanic to have this coil pack replaced. Downside to this plan? Oh yes, there's a downside -- my favorite mechanic moved out of Bolingbrook, closed the shop they moved to, moved again (even further away) and seem to have closed again. The last phone number that [personal profile] lady_curmudgeon had for them has been "Temporarily Disconnected," which is a bad sign. I suspect that once again he's gone under due to poor location, or he's relocated again for the same reason. Regardless of the cause, I don't think I'll be chasing after him. The location he left behind has been occupied by a new mechanic ("Nuno's") and a friend has recommended another nearby shop ("Tuffy's"). I'll give them both a call on Monday and see what sort of lead time and prices are quoted to me.

I hate paying for work I could (and have) complete myself! However, I think in this case (it's below freezing in the winter, the process takes a long time to get done, I'd be out in the weather for several hours swearing at the cold and the components I have to replace while trying to evolve two more elbows on my right arm) I think my comfort wins out over my desire to save a hundred dollars or so in labor charges.

Right here right now
feren: Feren in profile (sakuranym_profile)
Last night I didn't have nostalgic dreams -- mostly because I didn't sleep well at all. What sleep I did happen to get was mostly punctuated by unsettling or nightmare-esque visions. Thankfully there were very few of those, because I spent most of my evening just tossing and turning. In point of fact, I think I turned over more times than a hot dog on a 7-11 roller grill.

And before you ask: yes, I posted this entry with the sole purpose of sharing that terrible joke.
feren: Feren smoking (atomicfiction_ferensmoking)
Courtesy of Jazzy: Feren's Law states: "If a project or change is slated to take 3 hours and affect no-one, budget 24, bring an EMT, and expect torches and pitchforks"."
feren: Feren smoking (atomicfiction_ferensmoking)
Dear CONvergence 2012,

If the hotel that serves as your function space sells out its room block in 36 hours from the time it opens, then it may be time to look at a new venue.

I love the Bloomington Radisson Sheraton Double Tree, I really do. It has served this convention very well for many a fun and incredibly inebriated, traffic-cone-wearing years. I have special love for the pool and cabana area, because the way it is laid out makes the room parties a unique experience with a level of guest interaction that would be nigh impossible to duplicate in any other environment. That rich engagement is a wonderful thing and I have many fond memories of CVGs past because of it.

But if you can sell out the entire hotel within thirty-six hours of opening the room block, there is something wrong. To put a fine point on it, the thing that is wrong is your venue is woefully undersized for the needs of your (consistently expanding) audience.

Your website's hotel page1 says it all:

2 years ago, the room block at the Sheraton for the 2010 convention took 1 month to fill.
1 year ago, the room block at the Sheraton for the 2011 convention took 1 week to fill.
This year, the room block at the Double Tree (same building as the last two years) took roughly 36 hours to fill.

As our primary obligation is to the Double Tree, and we had worked with last year's fill rate of a week, and have not as yet secured all agreements with the Sofitel to be able to take room requests for that venue. Hopefully needless to say, we are working on securing that agreement, as well as an agreement with other hotels as rapidly as possible. We ask everyone's patience.

I am a reasonable man. I accept that things that have limited supply and high demand will sell out quickly. But look at those metrics! They are telling an important story and the CVG board seems to be willfully ignoring that story. Since 2009, with every year that passes, you are selling out the main hotel's room block in approximately ΒΌ (1/4th) of the time of the year previous.

We are talking about a hotel room here, not tickets to meet Bono in person, nor free ounces of gold (or, for those DS9 Trekkies out there, bars of gold-pressed latinum). You are not Ticket Master. These are hotel rooms we're talking about. These are part of the lifeblood of your convention. I refuse to sit, salivating, over the "register!" button. Spending time, on notice from an email, hoping to reserve a hotel room? Waiting with hundreds of other attendees for time to tick down and the lock to open so the mad frenzy may begin to reserve a place we pay to sleep? That is not how I want to spend my time. It is disrespectful to expect us to expend our time this way as convention attendees.

The second paragraph on the hotel page, about the obligation to Double Tree and having not yet secured agreements with Sofitel? This simply highlights the problem. The demand has far outstripped the capability of the existing facility to support this convention's needs. If a thirty-six hour sell-out is a surprise and you do not have alternate options readily available (without the hotel page giving a chiding warning to people who choose to be proactive instead of becoming victims of an artificial shortage that, "any reservations made at the Sofitel before we have reached an agreement may not receive a convention rate") then you are Doing It Wrong. Either understand you have an overwhelming demand that is growing every year and plan accordingly (hint: that means having your plans with Sofitel and other venues in place before the main hotel sells out) or move. Anything else is penalizing your attendees.

I love this convention, but I'm starting to wonder if the people who are in charge are so in love with memories of a facility that they cannot see how they are doing their key demographic (hint: the Convention Attendees) a crucial disservice. And while I am but one man, I am surely not alone in feeling that the already frustrating & convoluted experience of dealing with the CVG Hospitality Staff paired with the inability to get a room booked IN OCTOBER is enough to put me off attending the con at all.


feren: Feren in profile (sakuranym_profile)
In preparation for the arrival of my parents, who should be here any time in the next hour, I put a space heater into the guest bedroom and turned it on. The guest bedroom in my house is at the farethest end of the furnace's limits so it tends to be chillier than the rest of the house in winter and can use a bit of auxillary heating.

Five minutes after I turned the heater on, the lights in the master bedroom and the office (a repurposed bedroom) went dark. The UPS units in the office went bezerk. Was I having a brown-out? No, the furnace was still running and the light in the den was on.


Off to the laundry closet I go, where a few seconds of looking later I can find a tripped circuit breaker. I reset the breaker, turn the electric space heater in the guest room down and go back to the office. About a minute and a half later, the UPS alarms are going off again and I'm sitting in the (relative) dark.


Back up, back to the laundry room, reset the circuit breaker. [livejournal.com profile] lady_curmudgeon suggested replacing the big space heater with her smaller ceramic-based unit. I do so, and once again three minutes later it's BEEP-BEEP-BEEP in the dark time.

I have run a heater in the guest room before and never had this problem, so this new set of circumstances vexes me mightily. I am making my way out of the office and cursing when I notice in the living room the Christmas tree lights are off, too. Wait, what?

Reset the circuit breaker, turn off the heater in the guest room completely and review what I know. I knew that all three bedrooms are strung on a single electrical circuit, but why is the livingroom off? Back into the breaker panel I go, and I reread the chickenscratch handwriting on the legend. "Bedrooms/living room." Then I look at the breaker - it's 10 15 amps.


Ten Fifteen amps to run the master bedroom, the guest room, the living room and the office. But wait! I also know from tinkering about in my electrical panel that this same circuit also serves the master bathroom, the guest bathroom AND the garage. You know, the garage that has the flood lamps for the flag pole plugged into it.


The way I was taught electrical work, while growing up, was to put every room on its own circuit with its own breaker. Clearly the contractor who wired this house was taught no such thing and had no qualms snaking wire hither, thither and yon throughout the walls and connecting an unnecessarily long leg attach to a single breaker. This explains everything: with the new flood lamps for the flag pole running off the garage, the exterior Christmas lights running off the garage, the Christmas tree lights running in the guest room and the various other electronic widgetry I've added over the intervening years (cell phone charges, new clock radio, etc) I've taken this breaker and pushed it to the very edge. The additional resistive load of a space heater takes that precarious balance and kicks it right off the cliff.

Great, so now I know what I'm doing for my spring project in the house! In the next few months I'll be plotting which walls are coming down, amassing conduit to put in and when it's "Go Time" I will be replacing this snarl of copper-clad aluminum crap with proper romex. I'll have to hire an electrical contractor to replace the breaker panel (it's far too small and doesn't have nearly enough breaker positions to take each room onto its own circuit) but that's fine. Hell, while I'm in there I'll have to see about the feasibility of pulling a 50 amp 240 line into the garage to run a sub-panel so I can put in my welder and air compressor.

I can't help but keep coming back to the thought that some lazy bastard thought a single 110v 15 15 amp breaker serving all those rooms was acceptable or even "good enough." Oh, to travel back in time and slap some contractors...


Aug. 11th, 2010 10:25 pm
feren: Feren the photographer (oCe_Feren-Photography)
Due to a comedy of errors (I'm not laughing right now), it turns out that my macro lens hit the floor tile in my hallway. Frantic testing produced abnormal behavior, which [livejournal.com profile] tugrik confirmed to be damage to the USM ringmotor.

The good news, as such, is that a repair shouldn't run me more than 1/5 of the price of the lens.

The bad news is that, well, let's face it -- a $520 piece of glass hit the ground and suffered damage as a result.

This is not how I wanted to start my vacation two days before my birthday.
feren: Feren the photographer (oCe_Feren-Photography)
Ladies and gentlemen of the LazyWeb, I am about to give back to you.

I shoot in RAW format on my Canon 40D. I have grown weary of the fine folks at Canon dicking around and being utterly unable to provide a codec for 64-bit versions of Windows. All I want to do is be able to see thumbnails of my photos in RAW format that are on my CF card or hard drive. Is that so much to ask?

Well, judging by the utter silence out of Canon, yes. Yes it is.

Even as technology marches inexorably onward and 64-bit operating systems become increasingly more common (Hell, Solaris has been 64-bit since 1998 and pretty much anybody who mattered announced or released a 64-bit capable OS in 2003, people!) Canon seems intent on punishing those of us who want to actually be able to use the full potential of our machines by refusing to publish a 64bit-friendly codec for the RAW files (CR2) produced by my 40D dSLR and other models. I can find no word to use other than "refusing" since they've been asked repeatedly over the last two years and constantly do not act upon the requests. This flat out denial means that users of Windows XP x64, Windows Vista x64 (what I used to run) and the platform I'm on currently, Windows 7 x64, are essentially shit out of luck. Sure, I can run Adobe Lightroom 2.6 in 64-bit, hell, Adobe's been supporting my 64-bit experience since I first installed Lightroom back in 2008, and hell they even supported using multiple cores; it's been smooth sailing with them every step of the way. Pulling in 8GB of RAW files and converting them to Digital Negative (.DNG) would have been hell if I had been in the 32bit world, unable to take advantage of my 8GB of RAM in this rig. But Canon? Not so forward-thinking.

Fellow suffering Canon owners, rejoice! Your salvation is at hand. A little company out of Switzerland, called Axel Rietschin Software Developments has heard our cries. They have released a codec pack for purchase, called the FastPictureViewer Codec Pack. It supports Windows 32-bit and Windows 64-bit. It supports tons of RAw files, not just Canon's (I counted Minolta, Nikon, Sony and Kodak amidst many, many others). The install is easy, purchase is easy, everything's easy. They fix what lazy, wayward manufacturers will not. And the software is on sale right now for an absolute steal compared to what other third-party codec providers are charging.

Act now.
feren: Feren in profile (sakuranym_profile)
Got into the office around 7:45pm last night (Friday). Got home at 7:30am this morning (Saturday). This is a sign that things did not go as well as I might have hoped.

To begin the night, I did the second Opt-E-MAN circuit cut. This one went much more smoothly than the one on Thursday night. Was done in under an hour (less than half of the total time window I had set aside for the event). This was good.

Then it became not so good. )
feren: Feren in profile (sakuranym_profile)
I have had some major, incredibly important deadline pushed up by 5 days. We were supposed to disconnect the old datacenter on 2/20, and yesterday I found out we're turning the power off to the old facility on 2/15. Joy.

I was at the office from 1930 last night until 0400 this morning doing the first phase of a circuit migration (using AT&T's "Opt-E-MAN" WAN/Ethernet service). What should have been simple went really sideways and we encountered some significant problems. The irony of it all is that it turns out I had completely overthought the situation and made a simple, elegant solution vastly more complex than it needed to be. When I returned to the simple solution everything started working. Thankfully I realized this at around 0240 and reeled everything back in, successfully completing that stage of the trasition. Hooray for smoke breaks and my coworker NF who let me bounce thoughts off of him (and watched me draw with a whiteboard marker on a non-whiteboard surface. I'll be staring at that for the next 15 years).

Right after I fixed things up on the Opt-E-MAN I got some news from the good folks over at Hurricane Electric's IPv6 tunneling service that made me happy: the tunnel I had requested to $EMPLOYER's router should be fixed (it hadn't been working before). When I tested things out, it was! Not only did I have IPv6 connectivity on the most rudimentary level, my BGP session for IPv6 was also working! After I got home at around 0400, I couldn't sleep (surprise surprise, given the events of the evening) so I settled into the office and did some tinkering to see if I couldn't get $EMPLOYER's IPv6 allocation to be announced out to the global Internet (what little of it that speaks IPv6, anyway) via the Hurricane Electric tunnel. It took a bit of fiddling but eventually I was able to successfully announce 2620:0:1400::/42 out of my Juniper M10i router into the IPv6 Internet (all hail the MultiServices PIC).

So, over a year after I got $EMPLOYER a provider-independent IPv6 allocation, it is finally being announced into the Internet (from ASN 22734). The next step? I probably need to get the traffic through the firewall....
feren: I AM THE MAN (Default)
At least the faces of some drivers will.

The last two Juniper M10i routers were delivered to the new datacenter today. Sadly, only one of them is usable. The other had damage to the box that made me curious, and the two shock sensors had both been tripped. Opening the box revealed that the handles on the two included power supplies had been smashed and bent inward, and the filler plates had been popped out of the front. Which implies to me a back-to-front shock. But man, what the hell did they do to this thing, play forklift soccer with it?

Tripped shock sensor
Tripped shock sensor
This is not what you want to see on the outside of the box carrying your $20k chassis.

Bent power supply handles
Bent power supply handles
Bent handles on the two power supplies.

Popped faceplates
Popped faceplates
Four or five of the front filler plates on the M10i were popped out from the shock.

So it should go without saying that UPS Ground (the carrier that has their label on the box) is going to be taking a big ol' healthy bite of a $20k shit sandwich and reimbursing Juniper for the damaged unit they now have to replace. Meanwhile I will have to wait for another M10i to be shipped to me as an RMA... argh.
feren: Feren smoking (atomicfiction_ferensmoking)
Dear Lazyweb,

It is under great duress that I am editing my profile in the "$EMPLOYER Commons," which is essentially an internal Facebook site full of rah-rah-rah propaganda. One of the things I'm being told I need to do is supply a "tagline" that suits me.

I need something that will pass the HR/Corporate/Management "sniff test" but still convey a level of snarkiness to those who know me. I'm sure [livejournal.com profile] linnaeus would have a good suggestion, but I want all of you to feel free to chip in too.
feren: Feren is silly (Zhivagod_Feren-Silly)
I love the emails that I get at work, sometimes. I love the opportunity to be a smartass in response even more. For example, I just received this...

From: [DBA]
Sent: Wednesday, August 19, 2009 3:23 PM
To: [Project Manager 1]; Feren; [Feren's Boss]
Subject: Pipe sizing for transfers to new delta production

We were under the impression that the pipe going to production will be getting larger soon.

The last time we needed to transfer a large file to production from delta or delta2 we got kicked out repeatedly.

After a very productive day we are on track to start out database builds tonight and tomorrow.

For one of these databases this will require a 50gb file transfer. With the problems occurring last time we want to confirm when the pipe gets bigger so that we can reduce the chances of restart.

So when will the pipe get bigger??


I carefully considered this for a minute, then sent a response:

From: Feren
Sent: Wednesday, August 19, 2009 3:23 PM
To: [DBA]; [Project Manager 1]; Feren; [Feren's Boss]; [Project Manager 2]
Subject: Re: Pipe sizing for transfers to new delta production

When it works out more regularly and drinks protein shakes.

feren: Feren smoking (atomicfiction_ferensmoking)
Got a ticket in my helpdesk queue from 6/11 that I just got around to looking at today. The summary was chosen from a pull-down menu of available options, and is fairly succinct: Network - VPN Connectivity Problem. I think to myself, Okay, so it's some sort of problem. Let's see what their issue is! I open the detail description pane in Remedy and what do I see? Having a problem connecting through the VPN.

Really? That's all? That's it? No information about what you're doing, what the error code is, how I can recreate this problem?

Dear $EMPLOYER helpdesk: I hate how you allow users to "self service" and submit a ticket on their own, because there's no way this should have made it to the Engineering support tier with a description that uselessly vague and open.
feren: I AM THE MAN (Default)
Dear Lazyweb,

It's that time of the season again, just two short years after the last time! Yep, the cell phone contract has expired, and [livejournal.com profile] lady_curmudgeon and I are looking at new phones and carriers. It's going to be a mix of plan cost and finding phones we like. Curmudgeon wants a phone with a full QWERTY keyboard and a camera. I don't care about a camera, myself. QWERTY is a requirement, virtual or real I don't care.

So I'm not even going to poll this time around, and instead just invite you to comment with your thoughts. Here's where we stand:

  • I love my iPod Touch, so I'm naturally biased towards the new iPhone 3G S, but I hate AT&T. Their plan is sorta meh as well, and Curmudgeon didn't see anything she liked phone-wise since she's not sure an iPhone is the device for her.
  • I'm alright with T-mobile, I could put a jailbroken iPhone on there, but she sees no phones that she's down with (doesn't think she likes the SideKick). On the plus side, we could do a month-to-month no commitment plan.
  • I have Sprint right now on month-to-month, and get a 15% discount. No iPhone there (duh) but the new Palm Pre is out and the reviews seem fairly positive so far. I haven't had a chance to play with one but I'd consider it as an alternative to the iPhone. Curmudgeon likes the LG Lotus that they carry. Their prices are better than AT&T. We have yet to see if the Pre catches on and apps come out of the woodwork like they have for the iPhone.
  • Verizon's not shown me or Curmudgeon anything that we're interested in thus far.

So, recommend away. I know [livejournal.com profile] warphammer is twitching hard at the thought that I might join the iPhone ranks, so I'm curious
feren: I AM THE MAN (Technology makes me punchy)
Feren nnnrhg how can he build things when people give him the wrong host name and record the host names in three places on IP tracker...

[livejournal.com profile] rissani says, "They expect you to pull miracles out of your ass, per usual!"

Feren's going to prolapse his anus at this rate.

And of course, as I read this out to [livejournal.com profile] markvd he has to interject, "You can make your own goatse page!"


Aug. 24th, 2008 05:09 pm
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-gruntle)
Halfway through the drive (205 miles) and I'm pulled over by an Indiana trooper for going 11 mph over the speed limit.

Oy, let's see how much this costs me.

Edit: cited me for 78 in a 70 mph zone becausew that's what my cruise control was set at. Total damage: $136. Are you fricking kidding me? You're citing me for 8 mph over, really?

Yeah, I'll contest this.
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-gruntle)
Last week I bought a new headlight & fog light switch for my Expedition. I installed factory fog lights on the truck two years ago but the headlight switch that was in the truck didn't support fog lights, it was missing a necessary connection to the wiring harness. On a whim I checked eBay last week and found somebody selling the exact part I needed. I bid on and won the auction: $22, including shipping. Very fair price for something I would have paid $20 or so for at a pick-n-pull junkyard.

The seller sent me a USPS tracking number. Since Thursday the only thing it said was "Electronic Shipping Info Received June 11, 2008." That is until today, when magically two more lines were added: "Processed, June 15, 2008 8:48 PM, ELK GROVE VILLAGE, IL" and "Arrival at Unit, June 16, 2008 5:05 AM, BOLINGBROOK IL."

I know from e-mail communication with the seller that this switch was shipped from the seller's home in Charlotte, North Carolina. So how badly does your tracking system have to suck when an item with a tracking number sits at "information received" for 4 days and then suddenly has the first entry be "Processed ELK GROVE VILLAGE, ILLINOIS." How exactly did the item get from North Carolina to Illinois without you scanning that tracking number at least once on its way?

feren: I AM THE MAN (Technology makes me punchy)
Dear IE,

You may now officially blow me. I have your homepage set to about:blank, yet whenever I hit CTRL-N to open a new window you piss me off. How? By immediately taking that new window and loading the URL of the old window in it. Thanks for that.

This gruntle brought to you by <i>.
feren: I AM THE MAN (ashryn-gruntle)
Sometime between 2100 hours last night and about 1400 hours today I managed to lose misplace my primary debit card. [livejournal.com profile] lady_curmudgeon is pretty convinced that it's not actually lost and in the nefarious clutches of somebody who will spend my money wildly. I agree with her and am pretty convinced it's actually somewhere here in [livejournal.com profile] roho & [livejournal.com profile] genet's house, but damned if I can find it. So rather than take chances while I half-assedly lumber around looking for the card, I opted to hit the web and filed a lost card notification with my credit union. Since I was filing after normal banking hours the website's form had me call into the necessary 800 number to cancel the card as well. While I was on the site I also checked my online balance statement. There's no unrecognized charges on the register so I think I dodged a bullet if the card fell out somewhere somebody unsavory could find it.

If I somehow stumble across the wayward card before this weekend is through the card is now disabled and useless, but I don't care. The replacement will be here in a few days and in the meantime I can use the debit card from my other bank. This is just a mild inconvenience and it certainly isn't anything insurmountable. I'm just glad to know the balance in my checking account is safe and, for the near future, still mine.

Since we drove up to Chez Cheefennec last night my usual Friday posting of something photography-related has been delayed until Monday or Tuesday.

PS: Dear LazyWeb, why did you not tell me there was a video of a cat playing a theramin?


feren: I AM THE MAN (Default)

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