punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Lack of manpower

Well, seeing as I am feeling better than I have in weeks, I am in a fairly good mood, despite more problems going on.

We're having problems finding a dog sitter for Balticon. Our usual sitter is gone that weekend in California and our usual backups are either going to Balticon or have some religious/family obligation to fulfill. On top of that, most of Christine's staff for the night shift has either had to back out due to work-related issues or are whereabouts unknown. I got my final, final schedule for Balticon (the one sent to the printers), and it has me doing two panels at the same time in different rooms. The dogsitter one we have two possible leads, the security we're hoping for volunteers, and I'll just miss one of the panels on Friday at 10pm.

At work, I am been terribly busy trying to catch up, because I was sick all last week. I worked some of the time over the weekend to catch up on a new release of my software, which was buggy come Monday morning, but I got the bugs fixed, and this morning the reports are coming in pretty rosy. I'm still behind on fixing user errors. My main job is making sure several hundred machines do all their tests every night, and sometimes people who set them up do so incorrectly. The worst offenders are people who use old images of test machines. See, we have a ton of generic machines, and we put "images" of the OS and software we're testing on them as one big file. When we want to test VendorA with SoftwareB on PlatformX, we have an ABX image which gets copied over to the hard drive and, wala! A whole new system. The problem is with Microsoft Operating systems (like XP), they have so many security flaws and patches, we have to make sure the images have all the patches, too. And some people, instead of using the stock updated images, have their own image which they haven't updated in weeks, maybe even months. So they use that instead, and then we have an XP machine out there with some vulnerability exploit, and that causes all kinds of problems. On top of that, I release software that monitors the machines and makes sure the data goes to a central server every morning, and that may not have been updated in an older image, either. Very often I have to hand-update some machine with my "Best of Punkie's Software 2003" still on it, with links to servers that no longer exist since the last lab move. I have software that auto-updates itself, but sometimes the image is so old, auto-updating no longer works effectively. Then, to make things interesting, we have one or more people (we call them gremlins) who are mischievous and do stupid crap like removing everything from a startup folder, unplug LAN or power cables, mess with or remove essential files on the server, and so on. The software stuff is often hard to trace, because with hundreds of machines, we have mass logins, so finding out who messed with something is very, very hard and time consuming. And they always deny it anyway, even though a majority of "issues" narrow down to two people. The hardware stuff is almost impossible, because even though we have badge-activated doors and locks, they never seem to find who is doing this, even though we have evidence someone tampered with the equipment. We keep threatening "webcam." Thank goodness stealing hasn't been a problem since we moved to the new computer room, though. That was a total pain in the ass. "Where the hell did Server 24xyp go? There's just a hole with some dangling wires in the rack ... god damn it!" Back then, we had a blank check for hardware and a lot of backup equipment, but it was still a pain because we had to waste a day's work to rebuild a new server. Anyway, as you can imagine, being out of it for over a week has left a lot of little errors here and there.

I have been playing a lot of Sim City 4, and finally got the system down:

1. Build lots of farms and a lot of low-density residential places
2. Build low-density industrial places when people fill up residential
3. Never buy any public utility until absolutely critical (like only build police stations after the crime rate drives people out of your city)

This was a breakthrough, because when I first got this game over a year ago, none of my cities ever survived, and I gave up. I started playing it again because our area has had a lot of development, and I needed some kind of cathartic thing to get through it.

This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000501.html
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