You can’t buy a SAN (I feel a rant coming on)

Warning, rant follows…

I have a problem with referring to a storage array as a SAN as seems commonplace these days. SAN is Storage Area Network. Storage array <> SAN <> RAID <> LUN, but all are related. For clarification, storage arrays, which live in a SAN, typically provide access to LUNs that are often created using RAID technologies to provide data protection.

Everyone has (or at least most of you have) been using SAN and storage array interchangably for years now and that’s not right. I think that the storage vendors are really to blame. When the concept of SANs were introduced, many viewed them as complex, difficult to design/create, and difficult to install. I believe that the storage vendors started selling storage arrays as “SANs” to make them easier to buy and install. I admit that the tools for managing SAN environments have improved to allow a single interface to handle switch zoning, LUN allocation, visualization of the storage configuration and performance monitoring. Technically, putting a storage switch inside a cabinet that includes a storage array does not a SAN make, though many vendors are offering products in that easy-to-buy format these days. Continue reading “You can’t buy a SAN (I feel a rant coming on)”

Updated WP and new theme

I upgraded to WordPress 2.5 tonight and also found a new theme that I like better than my dull old one (hat tip to BAAG and Alex for the theme). I’ll be working out the kinks with the word wrapping and updating some tags (I was foolish and used spaces instead of commas, so need to update those posts to fix the tag cloud). Hopefully, in the next couple of days, I’ll get things updated and hopefully the site will look and work better. Then I’ll hopefully continue working through my blog article backlog. Thanks for your patience while I remodel.

2:30am will never happen on Sunday morning

For those that didn’t bother to install the OS, Oracle or other DST patches (to handle the adjusted DST change schedule) last year and elected to just change the time on your servers by hand twice a year, get ready to do that again this weekend. Personally, I’d rather burn two whole regular work days figuring out and installing the patches than get up to modify the time on a server at 2am on Sunday morning, but that’s just me I guess.

For those that forgot the crontab rule about not scheduling things to occur between 1am and 3am (because they either get skipped or run twice once a year), prepare to be confused as 2:30am doesn’t ever happen on clocks in most US states/regions (here are the exceptions).

I’ll look forward to a little more daylight during the hours that count and one hour less sleep on Saturday night.

On a side note, let’s hope that this little posting will get me started on regular posting here…at least for a while!

Beverage Discrimination

Mountain Dew CanI don’t drink coffee. Never have. However, I do love and need caffeine–in large and frequent doses, but carbonated and refrigerated (refrigeration optional when desperate). That’s why I’m always a tiny bit upset when I arrive at a new customer site and as part of the usual tour I find office supplies, bathrooms, printer, and all the free coffee you can drink. Some of them have a water cooler too (which I try to substitute…my physician tells me this is better than my caffeine addiction).

Why doesn’t Equal Opportunity apply? I’m discriminated against because of my beverage choice. Shouldn’t I expect equal access to all the things I need in order to perform my job? I submit that if others I work with need coffee to perform their daily tasks (I presume that’s why it’s part of everyone’s salary/benefits package–including mine), I should be afforded the same. I shouldn’t have to pay part of the coffee tax if I don’t take part in consuming the coffee.

In the interest of full disclosure, I do have to say that my current employer provides a magically perpetually stocked fridge of carbonated delights that I frequent when I’m in the office (they also provide bottomless pots of coffee). Unfortunately, I haven’t been in the office for a month, so that doesn’t help me right now!

Gotta go get something caffeinated to drink before I fall asleep…

Acquisition Wednesday, Round 2: Indian firm Rolta buys TUSC

Apparently, Wednesday is the day to be acquired. Today, the announcement that Broech Corporation (which does business as TUSC) was acquired by Mumbai, India-based Rolta for US$45 million. TUSC will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rolta and Joe, Rich, and Brad will continue to lead “TUSC – A Rolta Company”, at least for now.

I definitely think that most people could not have foreseen TUSC being acquired, especially by an Indian firm, but it looks like Acquisition Wednesday is just full of surprises! I know things must have changed since I worked there as I certainly could never have imagined this event coming to pass. I’m unable to predict how TUSC (or any 17+-year-old private firm) will fare as part of a public company. Challenging times and big changes are in store I suspect.

For now, you can read the press releases here and here.

This seems to somewhat validate an article that was tweeted yesterday by Puneet Thapliyal. It was a posting that discussed the challenges that Indian firms are experiencing now with higher wages and many other factors. Thanks for sending it along, Puneet!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the acquisition in comments below.

8 things and tag round 2

My friend Jake at OracleAppsLab tagged me today and it’s high time I get back on the blog saddle anyway, so thanks for giving me a reason to get (re)started. Of the universe of people he could have chosen, I’m honored to be among the 8 “chosen ones” for this first round.

I thought Jake’s 8 things about himself were pretty interesting. You know how when you talk to someone on the phone and immediately start creating a mental image of them? Later, you finally get to have a meeting in person and find out you were waaaayyyy off? As anyone that has met me or seen me knows, I’m not a particularly vain person. If it weren’t for the fact that I try to make a living and others generally judge me based on my appearance, I’d wear cutoffs swimming trunks (I am a diver as you’ll learn in a moment) and t-shirts with funny, almost inappropriate sayings on them all the time. I once asked my grandfather how old I had to be in order to stop caring whether my fly is open (note that most people won’t tell an “old person” when their fly is open). He said 62, not sure why, but he’s the authority on such things. If you ever saw him, you’d know.

Anyway, to delight your imaginations and give you many more reasons to change your mental image of my persona, here are 8 things about me.

  1. My entire family attended all of my high school functions. My dad was the high school principal and I had to leave my date at prom, homecoming…pretty much all functions for about 15 minutes to get a family photo taken. In between functions, just trying to get everyone to forget that you’re the principal’s kid was a full time job.
  2. I can operate pretty much every piece of machinery found on a grain farm from planter to cultivator to combine. From the time I was 12 until college, I worked all summer and weekends in the fall and spring as the sole farmhand for 2500 acres of corn and soybeans. Great tan, kept in shape, made some cash, and learned a lot about mechanical things too. Sometimes, I still yearn to work a weekend or two in the fall when harvest starts. There’s a funny story about getting followed by an unmarked sheriff’s deputy car while driving the pickup back to the farm (I was 13 at the time and not driving legally). Turns out, my boss’ brother was the sheriff who was just stopping by for a visit…I almost soiled myself.
  3. I was a crew trainer at McDonald’s when I was 16. Only those that have experienced it can attest to the permanent smell of recon onions and pickles that sticks around for 2-3 days after you work a shift on the grill. I made the biscuits (at 4:30am) back when McDonald’s used to make fresh biscuits in every location. They’re shipped in frozen now–fresh was better. Also note that if you ever saw a McRib before they covered it in that sauce, you’d never eat one again.
  4. I’m a scuba diver. After 6 years of wanting to learn, I finally got around to it (delay due to children) this year. I am currently a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver and am working on my Rescue Diver certification as soon as it thaws out in Illinois. I keep my scuba diving page here up-to-date…mostly.
  5. One of my favorite times in life was working as an Assistant Stage Manager at Illinois State University. As part of the student stage hands crew, I got to work on setting up and tearing down roadshows that came through Bloomington-Normal, Illinois on their tours. I worked on shows for Travis Tritt, Marty Stuart, Megadeth, Extreme, Stone Temple Pilots, Toad the Wet Sprocket, the launch of the Smashing Pumpkins world tour, Buddy Guy (awesome), Harry Belafonte, Bill Cosby, Gallagher, and a bunch of others I can’t remember. I used to mix sound for some local bands too. Unforuntely, I was only there two years, but getting paid to hang out back stage is pretty cool, even if only for a little while. (I was at Illinois State for 2 years before transferring to UIUC where I graduated 2.5 years later.)
  6. My brother is an orthopedic surgeon. Those are the guys that bring drills, screws, pins, plates, and fake joints into an operating room. Weird stuff. I’ve learned that when he wants to show me pictures of the place he went last weekend, I have to be prepared for the accidental picture of some dude’s broken femur to be “accidentally” stuck in the middle of the stack. I think he just does it to test my constitution–he secretly remembers all those times I beat him up when we were younger. Mom always told me that someday he’d be bigger than me…(and he is that too, but has kindly chosen photographic torture instead). Regardless of our past, I’m very proud of him.
  7. My wife is a (great, goes without saying really) writer. I suspect like all great writers, she writes many things that she immediately throws away claiming that it isn’t worthy of reading. If there is an opposite to my work, creative fiction writing is probably about as close as it can get. She doesn’t get much time to work on writing due to taking care of Kids 2.0 (including updating their website) and House 3.0 (this is our 3rd ownership experience). She’s wonderful and her strengths complement all my weaknesses perfectly. Plus, she’s one helluva cook! 🙂
  8. I like to travel. Well, not constantly, but I’d rather buy a trip to some interesting place than to buy a “thing” for myself. I enjoy the occasional travel for work. Unfortunately, it usually comes in batches (gone for a month, home for a month) which is tiring and stressful for my family, but I generally enjoy going to new places. With the New Web, I am especially enjoying my ability to find people in the places I go and (at least try to) connect with them. Since I’ve recently added diving to my hobby list (there’s one on the list, diving), and I live in Chicagoland, travel will become more important as the diving in and around where I live is only truly fun for a few months in the summer. After that, it’s tolerable, but I digress…

So, there you have them, 8 things about me. I know, some are really about other people, but they are people that define me, so that’s why they’re on the list. Now for the fun part–8 people to tag for the next round.

I hereby officially tag the following individuals: Jeremy Schneider, Lewis Cunningham, Billy Cripe, Chris Muir, Charles Schultz, Mogens Nørgaard (a.k.a. Moans Nogood), Mark Rittman, and Alex Gorbachev. I’ll be emailing or tweeting you shortly to let you know you’ve been tagged!

If you plan to do a roadshow…

You’ll want to take some advice from Joel Spolsky of Joel on Software who recently completed his world tour. He had some great advice and lessons learned from his trip. I especially like Joel’s details about how to choose a room, music to play before starting the presentation, and how to conduct a good software demo.

I know this is not Joel’s most recent posting, but I forgot to blog it when I read it, so apologies for the delay.

There’s a first time for everything

As even long-term parking at O’Hare is expensive, I elected to arrange a car from/to home for OpenWorld last week. I’ve used the same service several times and they’ve always been professional and on time–except this time.

The ride from home to the airport was boring enough–they were only 5 minutes late to my door, but that’s excusable. The ride home from O’Hare was the more interesting story. As usual at O’Hare, the cars have to wait about 20 minutes from the terminal in a lot. I got off the plane, called to let them know I’m ready and he told me 20 minutes–no surprise. I didn’t time them, but it was about 20 minutes, so that was okay. The negatives began when I sat behind the driver (who was shorter than I am) and got kneecapped as I sat down because his seat was so far back. Turns out, apparently his vehicle (which I presume is exclusively used for chauffeuring people around) has no trunk release, so in order to stow my bag, he had to turn the car off and remove the key from the ignition (how could he not have a spare key?) which in many luxury cars will cause the seat to move all the way back. Now, you’d think that a professional driver would be smart enough to disable this kneecapping feature so that the passenger behind the driver wouldn’t be inconvenienced–I know I would, but then again I guess I am a detail-oriented person.

We finally left the airport with me and one other passenger and headed into rush-hour traffic on Friday evening. It was evident that I was in for a rough ride as the driver had more of a “cab driver” style of flooring the car for every 5-foot advancement and then slamming on the brakes just before ramming into the car ahead. No collisions on this ride, though there were at least two times I had to brace myself on the back of the seat to keep from injuring myself.

The punchline of this joke is that about 3 miles after we left the airport, he pulls off at the O’Hare oasis and mumbled something about gasoline. He drives into the gas station and stops in front of a pump. Turns off the car (which kneecaps me again), hops out of the car and jogs inside the building. I commented to the passenger next to me that this is a first. Seems to me that a professional driver wouldn’t inconvenience his patrons with a stop for gas when he clearly could have done the stop before picking us up. Also, it was rush hour, so the ride was already longer than normal due to traffic. He finally emerges from the station with a cup of coffee in hand and *then* starts to pump the gas. I think the car (a Lincoln Continental) only took about 10 gallons which means it was still about 1/2 full and he just wanted coffee. The rest of the ride home was a jostling ride in traffic where we went 50 mph for 100 feet and then slammed on the brakes again.

I just looked at my receipt and see that I had a little trouble writing my first number, so I will have to confirm that they didn’t interpret that as an 8 instead of a 5 (I intended to give $0 tip). I’m not interested in publicly blackballing this company, but I surely won’t use them again as there are plenty of others ready to take my $$ and I’m not sure it is possible to provide worse service.

PortableApps.com

One of my peers introduced me to the website www.portableapps.com a week or two ago. This site takes popular applications, modifies them to avoid requiring a typical installation so that you don’t need to have administrative privileges on the system to run them. This allows those of us (especially consultants) that work on others’ systems to be able to use some of our favorite tools without requesting special privileges.

I’d encourage you to check them out if you’d like to be able to put your favorite utility or web browser on a USB drive, plug it in to a computer you’ve never used before and start using the utility without delay. It can provide a great deal of privacy protection as well since you don’t leave behind your browser cache, bookmarks, or site visit history.

If you’re looking for a tool to access the internet, archive some files, transfer files, read MS Word documents or many others, grab the Portable Apps utility of your choice and avoid the Windows-isms. They’ve got a great inventory of products already and they seem to be actively updating the existing tools as well as adding new ones.