Facebook – The New American Sofa

If you’re posting on Facebook, like I am right now, it means you’re not getting shit done. If you’re not getting shit done, it means you’re part of the problem. The more you’re not getting shit done, the bigger the problem.

I don’t count Twitter in this fight, because Twitter constrains everyone to small bites.  Facebook encourages long, rambling, mindless rants, just short of being a full blog, but definitely longer than most TV and radio commercials.  Also, comparing Twitter and Facebook, the percentage of content focused on “sharing information” (useful information) rather than fluff/politics/religion/rehashed-news/fake-news/re-faked-news etc. isn’t even in the same ball park.  Not even the same planetary system.

In one hour I get more helpful information from Twitter than an entire year on Facebook.  I have made my decision on where to spend my “not getting shit done” time.

On This Day – 1991

On July 21, 1991, I received a small box in the mail from the Kill Devil Hills, NC police department.  I wasn’t expecting any packages, let alone something from a police department. I opened it and found enclosed an old, weather-beaten leather wallet, with credit cards, a driver’s license, and $1 dollar.  There was a small amount of sand in the folds. There was also a hand-written note that said “Your wallet was found on the roadside and turned in by a good Samaritan. We used $4 from the inside to cover the postage, we hope you don’t mind. – KDHPD”

The credit cards had been cancelled four years earlier, along with getting a new driver’s license.  That was early Summer of 1987.

I lost the letter during hurricane Isabelle in 2003, and the wallet long before that, but I ran across a scrap of paper that mentioned the event and date while cleaning out some boxes.

I was a working musician in 1987; playing percussion mostly.  On that day, our band was in Nags Head, Manteo and Kill Devil Hills (North Carolina).  Staying in a cheap hotel, I ran out for lunch at the KFC a few miles up the road, with our guitarist, Jim.  We stopped on the way back to the hotel, at an overlook, to eat and watch the shorebreak, I stepped out, and (stupidly) set my wallet and flip-flops on the roof of my 1985 Toyota Pickup truck. I forgot the wallet when we got back in and drove back to the hotel.  It blew off the roof along one of the (back then) desolate cross roads (between the beach road and the bypass road).  There were no houses, or apartments back then along that stretch of land.  Just small dunes and seagrass, and each of those cross roads looked exactly like the next.  When we got back to the hotel, I realized the mistake and we drove back out and spent three hours driving and walking up and down each cross road until we gave up.

Today, that section of North Carolina doesn’t have a single road without a mass of townhomes, or condominiums.  Yet, they still look exactly alike.

What a journey it’s been from then to now.  After our first baby came along, I sold my gear and haven’t played since (aside from trips to Sam Ash and Guitar Center, every now and then). That led to drafting, which led to CAD, which led to programming, which led to my first IT job, which led to college, which led to more IT jobs, and on to consulting.  Queue the ridiculous sentimental soundtrack…. actually, someone in the house fed something bad to the dog and she has gas and won’t leave my office.  I have to get out.

Interviews – Common Misperceptions

Q: What is something that you think people assume about you, or your profession, which might surprise them as not being true?

Rob Spitzer

That we know everything about every OS, device, or app that someone is using. Its true that as IT folks we can typically flub our way through and figure out the answer but, just like everyone else, we really only know what we need to know to get our job done. I’m constantly learning new tricks from others.

Johan Arwidmark

That I don’t do mistakes :)”

DareDevelOPS

People assume I served in the Marine Corps.  People assume all IT people are brilliant geniuses.  Wrong on both assumptions.”

Rod Trent

People think I never sleep as it seems I’m online 24 hours a day. While, I *am* online a LOT, and do actually work quite a bit, my work/life balance is actually excellent. I’ve worked from home since around 1999 and have learned to become a high-efficiency person, i.e., everything I do, I’ve taken the time to maximize efforts through efficiency. So, essentially, I’ve found a way to script daily, physical tasks much like I used to do with VBScript/PowerShell in my IT Pro days.

Marc Graham

That because I surf and skate I’m also an extremely avid stoner!

Julie Andreacola

I think sysadmins are assuming that if their systems are patched and they have a good Anti Virus, they are protected from today’s malware attacks. My eyes have been opened to the devastation of today’s malware, and just patching and AV is not enough

Stephen Owen

That I’m always completely certain of the solution to a problem. There is always the opportunity cost of troubleshooting, and sometimes the client cannot afford to find the root cause of their issue. We have to move on, and that’s a shame when it happens.

Mike Terrill

hmm…not sure about that one, although my kids think my job is conference calls since i am on the phone a lot.

Chris DeCarlo

“I’d probably say “one thing people assume about the IT profession is that you need a college degree to get above entry level. I’d say that’s not true. You can get far with finding a section of IT you like and becoming a master in it through certification and many many hours of dedicated research/lab time at home. Showing confidence in your skillset becomes visible to others and you start to become the “go-to” person in your field.

Skatterbrainz

E. All the above.

Interview – Cris Weber

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Your Name: Cris Weber  @cweberits

Official Job Title: Development Architect

Functional role: Consulting / Internal Product Development

Home town: Grand Rapids, MI

1. Describe what you do for a living – to someone who has no idea what it means.

I lead a team of developers to make our consultants and our managed services more efficient by automating everything I can.

2. What aspect or area of technology are you most excited about?

Where to even start… Azure, Windows 10, EMS and ConfigMgr… I love the new MSFT that moves so fast.

3. What gives you the most satisfaction from your job today?

Either the moment where I’ve been working on a problem for hours and I finally solve it or when I finish a product and show it to our engineers and see how much it helps them.

4. Name the 3 most inspiring people in your life or career?

Troy Whittaker – My manager and mentor.

Jeffrey Snover – PowerShell and…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oe_utwHDc9c

CGP Grey – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CGP_Greyhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humans_Need_Not_Apply

5. What 3 books, movies, or other works, have influenced or inspired you the most?

The phoenix project. I’ve worked at companies that are exactly like that book and it helped me bring some sanity to the company.

Time management for sysadmins. – As a sysadmin I used to be overwhelmed with all the things to do. This book has a good system for helping sysadmins out.

Getting things done – I’m kind of a task management nut. So much so that I wrote my own custom task management app that brings scrum and getting things done together… (Yea… I don’t get out much. I do this in my spare time from 5 am to 6 am.)

6. You just stepped out of a time machine in 1100 AD in London or Rome. You have a smartphone in your hand and you demonstrate some of the apps and games to people around you. What happens next?

All of the apps would fail because they require an internet connection. So I would bring up the camera and take a video. Of course then I’m taken to jail for witchcraft because I have stolen their soul in the magic box. Or at least that’s what they think of the video I took of them… It wouldn’t end well. :\

7. What new or promising technology do you see that can’t get here soon enough?

I can’t wait until companies fully embrace Windows 10 and Azure AD Join. As my companies subject matter expert on Windows 10 I talk to a lot of companies about Azure AD Join and it’s implications and benefits. But most companies aren’t ready yet. 8. Do you think the continuous evolution of automation will result in there being very few full time human workers? And if so, what do think people will do?

This is actually a topic that terrifies me. Yes I believe that there will be a large section of the population that won’t be employable. Not because they aren’t smart but because the machines can do their job better/cheaper. I think that we will have to move to a universal basic income. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIL_Y9g7Tg0 I watch the youtube video humans need not apply (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU) about once a quarter to remind myself that I need to keep improving so I am not unemployable.

9. There’s never enough time.

10. There’s way too much to learn. I want to know all of the things…

11. What’s something that you wish you could change in your field of work? (Good or bad)

I have encountered many people who don’t believe how windows as a service works or are stuck in their ways because that’s how they have always done things. We are IT Professionals. IT changes and it changes fast. It’s our responsibility to keep up.

12. If you could go back in time to sit down with your younger self at, say, 15 years old, what advise would give yourself?

Dear 15 year old me… Keep working towards your goals. Even if most people don’t understand IT or your passion for it that’s fine. Don’t get discouraged by not being good at school. You’re good at IT and 90% of the things that are happening now don’t matter. So don’t stress so much.

13. You just stepped out of a time machine in 2050 in a major city. What 3 technology gadgets do you see people using around you?

Self driving cars (THANK GOD)

Useful personal assistant AI’s on their phones.

Google glass on steroids and no one blinks an eye at it.

14. You’ve been given the power to bring 2 people back to life from any time in history, for one full day only. Who would they be, and why?

Steve Jobs. I’d love to hear his story and hear what other visions he had but didn’t accomplish before he passed.

Steve Irwin. The amount of passion that he put into his work was very inspiring.

15. What would you like to accomplish in the next 5 years, personal or professional?

I would be like to seen in the community as a thought leader, become a MSFT MVP and overcome my social anxiety to accomplish those two items. There are so many blog posts that I haven’t hit publish on or told others about because of the anxiety of my anxiety around them. But I plan on publishing them this quarter.

Where to find out more about Cris –

If I had a Dollar for Every time…

Skype for Business client said “You can’t add or remove Favorites at this time. Try again later.”

Someone on a conference call said (late): “Sorry, I was walking to mute

A web site says it only works in Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer (but not Edge)

My smartphone says “you have 24 app updates pending

Microsoft Outlook client says “trying to connect”

I heard “that will be fixed in the next version

Our power company insists a new project will benefit customer costs, but it never does

Health, Dental and Vision insurance premiums increased, while overall coverage drops

I pass a hospital in the midst of major renovation or new construction

I hear Siri say “here’s what I found…”

I hear Google Assistant saying nothing whatsoever (it pantomimes)

I hear a corporate line manager get excited over a cloud migration while saying it will help reallocate staffing

I hear a corporate executive get excited over a cloud migration while saying it will help reduce staffing

Netflix adds another stand-up comedy special

I hear someone bashing foreign markets while they’re holding a Chinese-made phone

I hear someone complain about how stupid and unreliable human vehicle drivers are, but they’re dead against self-driving cars

My little terrier bark at the sound of an ant tip-toeing over the carpet at 2am

I hear Webex say “at the tone, please say your name and then press pound…

I see some idiot named Skatterbrainz post some stupid crap online

Interview – @DareDevelOPS

Your Name: Drew Burt / aka @DareDevelOPS

Official Job Title: Data Center Operations Engineer

Functional role: Server Windows/Linux and Storage Operations (SAN) Virtualization operations

Home town: Chattanooga, TN

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1. Describe what you do for a living – to someone who has no idea what it means.

ME: I engineer, operate and monitor the infrastructure layers that serve the enterprise information management needs.

Them: The F*ck?
ME: I Fix computers for a big company.
Them: Oh hey can you look at …
Me: Well F*ck SMH…. Sure.

2. What aspect or area of technology are you most excited about?

PowerShell and automation.

3. What gives you the most satisfaction from your job today?

Seeing point-and-click admins figure out coding really isn’t that hard.

4. Name the 3 most inspiring people in your life or career?

My Granny for my love of reading and personal Character.
My Last Supervisor in the Air Force Rod for trying to smooth My Aggressive Beast. I repeat the Mantra Flies, Honey not vinegar catch more you will.
Mr. Mike Corum for restoring my faith in God and making me realize i’m not as smart as I think I am and others are smarter than they think they are.

5. What 3 books, movies, or other works, have influenced or inspired you the most?

“Surely you must be Joking Mr. Feynman” – Richard Feynman
Mastering Windows NT – Mark Minasi
The Great Brain (series) – John D. Fitzgerald

6. You just stepped out of a time machine in 1100 AD in London or Rome. You have a smartphone in your hand and you demonstrate some of the apps and games to people around you. What happens next?

I get a massive bill for cross time data roaming? How they got e-mail through I’ll never know. Like a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s court, I become a wizard the regular Merlyn.

7. What new or promising technology do you see that can’t get here soon enough?

Quantum Computing. Barring that memory area networks and CPU Area networks all over over infiniband to complete the triumvirate.

8. Do you think the continuous evolution of automation will result in there being very few full time human workers? And if so, what do think people will do?

I think automation will enable humans to perform more valuable work. I think the nature of work will change, hopefully it will enable people to focus on more value driven pursuits. And work life balance as you work only when you’re notified.

9. There’s never enough___

Fried bologna egg and cheese sandwiches.

10. There’s way too much___

Ego and self interest among individuals and groups.

11. What’s something that you wish you could change in your field of work? (Good or bad)

Not made here syndrome. I’d remove the silos and communication barriers between functions. Basically, try to improve the organizational dysfunction between teams. I don’t think we have tech problems I think we have meatware problems.

12. If you could go back in time to sit down with your younger self at, say, 15 years old, what advice would give yourself?

  • Be healthier
  • Focus on your interests and learn who you really are.
  • Don’t be a shithead
  • Think less do more.

13. You just stepped out of a time machine in 2050 in a major city. What 3 technology gadgets do you see people using around you?

[a] Wearable that monitors your health and all other life metrics. It guides you in work life balance. It’s cloud connected you were sent home from the hospital with it as a baby.

Opticon optix latest generation of connected lenses, allows [the] user to have an immersive VR experience at any time. Games GPS maps uses your brain as a storage device.

iDrone overwatch personal protection AI drone also delivers all online shopping goods.

14. You’ve been given the power to bring 2 people back to life from any time in history, for one full day only. Who would they be, and why?

Richard Feynman: Theoretical Quantum Mechanics Get a better understanding of the next generation of science. He was a great teacher who was not caught up in his own fame. He suffered the loss of his wife whom he truly loved, and still made great contributions, while never remembering his first duty to her.

Thomas Jefferson: As one of the founders of the country I’d like get his take on what they were really trying to accomplish. Expose him to the Nation State he helped create and see if we are on or off track with the founders vision. Also any pointers he might give to correct perceived flaws.

15. What would you like to accomplish in the next 5 years, personal or professional?

Personally Happiness and self forgiveness
Professionally Automate all the things!

Flashback Time Again

Drink up – and follow me into the wormhole of utter pointless reminiscence…

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So, in the 1980’s I was working as a “senior engineering technician”, which was US Navy speak for “senior draftsman” or “senior drafter”.  We worked with various UNIX based workstations and mainframe systems to develop 3D models of US naval warship things.  Some of the names back then were CADAM, Pro/Engineer, Intergraph, and CADDS 4 or CADDS 5.

Interesting to note that, while AutoCAD existed in the late 1980’s, the US Navy strictly forbid the use of any “PC-based CAD tools” as they were deemed unreliable, inaccurate, “toys” as one admiral stated.  Over time, they gradually allowed the use of AutoCAD and later, Microstation, DesignCAD, Drafix, and a few others, but only for “textual document data” such as title-sheets (contains only tables, notes, and mostly text), while the actual design data was still allowed only for UNIX-based products.  Sometime in the early 1990’s, the Navy finally gave in and allowed PC-based CAD products for all design work.

While my job title sounded like a typical office job, it wasn’t that typical. We often split our time 50/50 with going aboard ships (all over the place), and climbing into the dirtiest, darkest, hottest, coldest and sometimes most dangerous places, on almost every kind of surface vessel the Navy had at the time.  From small frigates and supply ships, even hydrofoil patrol boats, up to aircraft carriers and commercial cargo ships.

In most cases, the scheduling worked out perfectly to send us to somewhere around 100F at 95% humidity to do this, which works great with a morning-after hangover (I was in my 20’s then).  By the time I left that industry, I had set foot into almost every space on a CVN68 class aircraft carrier, and about half of the spaces on LHA and LHD class ships.  I’ve seen a lot of interesting stuff, and got the bumps and scars to remember it by.

Anyhow, back in the office, one of the popular CAD systems of the time was CADDS 4 or CADDS-4X, sold by the Computervision corporation, which was somewhat affiliated with DEC/Digital.

The workstations we used were priced around $35,000 each at the time.  We had around 20 of them in our office.  The mainframe components, the annual subscription, and the annual support costs, were nearly 4 times the cost of the workstations combined.  Hence the “4X”, ha ha ha!  Good thing I didn’t have the checkbook then.

Turf Battles

One of the cool features was the digitizer tablet and pen setup, which looked like the (linked picture), except we had multi-color monitors.  The tablet consisted of a frame, a paper menu matte, and a clear plastic cover/surface.  The center of the tablet area was for drawing and manipulation.  The left, top and right outer regions were filled with menu “buttons”, which were sort of an on-screen button (no touch screens back then).

The buttons were programmable.  😀

We ran three (3) daily shifts to cover the projects, which were on a tight time schedule.  Myself, Kevin and Timmy, split the shifts on workstation P1, for “Piping Systems Division, Station 1”.  Every month or so, we’d swap shifts to keep from going insane.  During one month, I worked First shift (8am – 4pm), Kevin had Second shift (4pm – midnight) and Timmy had Third shift (midnight to 8am).

We met to discuss logistics, and so on, and agreed that we would claim a particular section of the tablet menu to use for our own custom button macro/command assignments.  First world problems, of course.

Timmy didn’t like being confined.  He considered himself a free-range drafter.

Each night, Timmy would change the button assignments on sections I and Kevin had agreed to claim.  This caused some angst, and I’ll explain why…

Sidebar –

Back then, the combination of hardware (processing power, memory caching, storage I/O performance, and network I/O) resulted in slow work, particularly when it came to opening and saving model data.  A typical “main machinery room” (aka. engine room) space model would take around 35-40 minutes to open.  The regular morning process was as follows:

  • 7:30 AM – Arrive at office
  • 7:35 AM – Log into workstation terminal
  • 7:37 AM – Open model file and initiate a graphics “regen all”
  • 7:39 AM – Search for coffee and sugary stuff
  • 7:45 AM – Discuss latest TV shows, movies, sports game, news story
  • 7:59 AM – Run for nearest restroom
  • 8:19 AM – Emerge from restroom
  • 8:20 AM – Model is generated and ready to begin work
  • 8:21 AM – Make first edit
  • 8:21:05 AM – Save!

Now, here’s the rub:  In 1987-88, there was no concept of an “undo” or “redo” in most of the CAD/CAM systems of the day.  So, we made sure to “save often and be careful with every edit”.

Second Rub:  Timmy liked to modify our programmed menu keys, which caused us a lot of headaches.  For example, clicking a button labeled as “Draw Line” might invoke “Translate Layer X” (select all objects on layer “X” and move them to another layer).  A drastic operation that required exiting the part (no save) and re-opening

Third Rub: Closing a model took about five (5) minutes.   So anytime a mistake occurred that required dropping out and coming back in, meant roughly 45-50 minutes of wasted time.  Well, not totally wasted.  It gave us more time to discuss the latest GNR album, Ozzy, whatever movies were out, and so on, and more coffee, and sugary stuff.

So, after repeated attempts to educate Timmy without success, Kevin and I agreed to modify all of Timmy’s command buttons to “exit part no file”.  So Timmy would open his model file and after 40-45 minutes, click “draw circle” and watch his screen go blank with a prompt showing “part file exited successfully” or something like that.

After one (1) day of that, Timmy didn’t mess with our menu buttons again.

By the way, in one of those 3D models, buried way inside one of the machinery spaces, there just might be a pressure gauge dial, among a cluster of other gauge dials, on an obscure corner bulkhead (ship-speak for “wall”), which has Mickey Mouse’s face and hands on it.  An Easter egg from 1988, laying dormant somewhere in an electronic vault somewhere in a dark warehouse in an undisclosed location.