Racking mess!

Today at work I had further confirmation that "standard" is not necessarily standard. We purchased a few rack mount servers recently, and also a rack to place them in. Today it was time to assemble the rack and test the rack mount kits in it to ensure everything would fit before deployment date.

Arrrgh. Even though it's a standards-compliant rack, Dell's rack rails wouldn't fit into the rack as it was. The rack has two parallel rows of square holes at each leg, instead of having only one as Dell assumes. This means that Dell's "clever" rack-mount kit, which can be adapted to either square-hole or round-hole rails, can't be inserted.

I had to take a big-ass pair of pliers, and bend the inner row of square-holes out of the way to install the rails.

This is why I like to test fit and finish for everything before the downtime window. Dealing with this crap when you're pressed for time is NOT fun!


There was an *opossum* eating out of the food bowl I leave for the neighborhood cats on the patio.

I shit you not. I didn't even know there were opossums around here. I also didn't know they like cat food. And I realize "pics or it didn't happen", but of course it was gone by the time I got my camera.

I guess leaving the food out overnight is going to be out of the question. I don't mind feeding the few neighborhood cats that come along, but I'd like to keep my charity confined to a single species.

Someone was too lazy to unplug the cable...

(click to embiggen)

I love Spotlight in Leopard...

If you are running Mac OS X Leopard, hit cmd-space, then type in an algebraic equation, for instance:

( 2000.00 * 0.04 ) / 365

Watch as it evaluates it for you right there. You can even use scientific functions like sin, cos, tan, and so on.

Firefox pet peeve

Ever see this dialog when trying to return to a search results page?

Arrrgh. This is especially irritating when it's a search results page that took a long time to load, on a slow server.

Why can't they add a "View cached version anyway" button so that you can see the page as it was before you navigated away from it? Sure, you can open new tabs from the search results page instead of just clicking the links, but by the time you see this dialog it's a bit too late to decide to do this.

Power outage!

There was a power outage on campus yesterday. The geniuses that set up the building generator were kind enough to put lights, elevators and *vending machines* on the emergency power, but neglected the server rooms and pretty much everything else. The result was having to do a cold start for the first time since the last hurricanes a couple years ago. There were some issues, but thankfully no failed disk drives this time. The outage weeded out a few bad UPSes which will be summarily executed and replced as well.

Seriously, vending machines? Why do they need to be on the generator? Is the ability for people to buy a soda while the power is out more important than keeping the computers running?

Sunpass Idiocy

Here in Florida we have the Sunpass toll collection system. You put a little transponder in your car and it pays tolls automatically as you go through them.

Well, that's nice. But apparently the system that automatically replenishes the account balance and the system that checks if your credit card is expired are out of sync with each other.

I faithfully updated my credit card when I got my new one a month before the old one expired. All was well.

Then I noticed on my way back from FWA last weekend that my balance had hit zero.

I checked the website and found that the "auto-replenish" had turned off. So I turned it back on. All was well.

Today in the mail I get two letters. The first one says that my credit card had expired, so auto-replenish had been turned off. The second was a nastygram of sorts that said using the transponder with a zero balance is a violation of the rules and can lead to "uniform traffic citations". I can't find a definition of this UTC anywhere on their site, but I suspect it's a fancy term for "ticket".

Gee, thank you for telling me a week later what a horrible criminal I am because YOUR system doesn't handle credit card expirations properly!

Oh yeah, and they did eventually tack on all the tolls I went through when the balance was zero, so they got my money *anyway*. Why are they complaining?

Jurassic Park

Whenever I hear the Jurassic Park theme, I think about... SGI!

Gods I am hopeless... :)

(For those not in the know, SGI computers were very prominent in that movie, in the "control room" scenes. This was back when SGI made the best graphics systems around, *period*. They were a huge company that supplied all of Hollywood and more with graphics workstations. Now they are but a mere ghost of their former self, and may cease to be soon.)

No shit, sherlock...

How long until we have a few dozen students trapped on the second floor, unable to figure out how to go "down"? ;)

eSATA is neat

I just set up a LaCie Quadra 4TB RAID array at work. We needed to buy an eSATA card to get the maximum performance out of it.

I like the board layout. Notice the traces to the eSATA ports; two pairs of perfectly parallel traces from the ASIC to each port. I'm so glad signal processing has reached the point where we can shove ungodly rates down serial lines; remember what a mess parallel buses are? Compare the elegance of the eSATA traces to the mess of PCI bus traces on the lower part of the board.

In any case the drive works great, though I had to partition it using Linux LVM since fdisk doesn't support single volumes bigger than 2TB. Soon 3TB will be online for the database group (4TB * 0.75 due to RAID5) and they will be happy.

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