Little Stuff

I’ve been pretty burnt out lately. Lots of stuff going on and very little of me to go around. And I think I’m getting sick. When I get this way I start feeling like a worthless piece of crap because I can’t get anything done. This is what Joel Spolsky was talking about in his “Fire and Motion” post. Like he says, the trick is just getting started, on something.

So I started on little stuff.

I upgraded our Tasks Pro installation to version 1.6.2. The latest version will check an IMAP or POP3 mailbox. Our copy of Tasks Pro has its own VMware virtual Red Hat box so it was painless to install an IMAP server, get sendmail listening, and add a user to take in mail. Now when someone emails me a request I can just forward it along and it goes into my list. Sweet. Well, as sweet as a system that keeps track of all the stuff I have to do can be.

I also noticed that the daily reminder notifications weren’t working. I’ll probably get email tomorrow asking why people are getting email. Preferences, people — you turned it on.

I upgraded the TSM clients on all of our servers to 5.3.3. I’ve been running 5.3.3 on my test machines for a couple of weeks and it’s been fine. Through the magic of scripting and standardization I got about 100 machines done in 30 minutes, and all that time was sitting and watching a script. Actually, all that time was spent reading RSS feeds (I’m still digging Omea) and then watching the monitoring systems for errors that dsmc isn’t running. And then another five minutes fixing the retardation preventing my upgrade scripts from running right on a couple of boxes.

Upgrades, in general, are painless as long as you follow a couple of simple steps. Shut the client down and make sure it’s shut down. Make a backup copy of everything. If you’re on a Linux box you can make your backup copy into /tmp, and the tmpcleaner will delete it later (by the time it removes it you’ll know if you need the backup copy or not). Remove the software completely, and remove the directories. In this case I remove the RPMs and then rm -rf the directory so I know exactly what I’m starting with (nothing). Install the software. Copy just what you need from the backup. Restart the software. Wash, rinse, repeat.

That done, I mucked around with some Linux boxes we use as firewalls. A coworker and I built these to protect some wireless networks, and my coworker wants all the rejected packets logged so he can see when things are messed up. They were making /var/spool/messages quite large, though, and really hosing down the monitoring systems. Like Samuel L. Jackson and swine, monitoring systems just don’t dig on 3 GB logs. Through the magic of iptables’ –log-level and syslog.conf’s kern.debug we sent those elsewhere. Booya.

I tweaked the backups for those firewalls, so the huge logs which we’re only using for debugging don’t get backed up. It’s for privacy concerns as much as not wanting 40 GB of log data in the backup system every night. We worked with management to determine what we needed to keep for data and what we didn’t, and to the best of our ability we don’t keep things we don’t want to keep. Having a policy that explicitly covers what we don’t want to keep instead of just what we do want to keep is pretty cool.

So now I’m done with my list of little stuff, and I’m stuck with the big stuff. *sigh* And, feeling the need to actually insert some content in my blog, have now written this. Maybe I’ll play SimCity for a while and regain my sanity, one residential zone at a time.