Activities of Late (Spring 2015)


With April came a change in my working patterns.

No longer associated with my previous employer of almost 8 years, I’m left with some much-needed independence and down time.

I am applying for job roles that are specifically not in in Ops or DevOps. I may change my tune depending on how things go, but for now I want a break from 24/7 or shift-based on-call work on top of regular hours. That said, I am a very loyal employee and have proven that with 7 years of that type of work – when I am on shift or responsible for monitoring phones, I certainly do set a standard for excellence that I’m sure my employer will miss.

Current projects, aside from applying for jobs in Technical Writing, Quality Assurance/Testing And Customer Service:

  • Handling the transition – paperwork paperwork paperwork!
  • Blogging about geeky things
    This is probably the most interesting to you. To ease this change, I’ve opened another blog (my Geek Blog) that’s focused specifically on blogging about geeky enthusiasms. I’ll reserve this blog for less professional-oriented stuff, and you can probably consider the MS-related professional tech blog mothballed for now.
  • Trying to figure out if I want to open a geek and social justice-related small business, and whether it might be practical
    If I make significant progress I can write about in that regard, I’ll post about it on the geek blog.

I’ll keep an eye on Analytics here and restore any now-hidden articles that seem to get traffic from Google or other referrers, as a public service, but do go check out the Geek Blog or find me on Facebook and follow what I choose to publish there instead (largely personal stuff).

Scope of my Engineering work

Especially when talking with local professional/paid UNIX/Linux admins, I often get dismissed because I work with Windows. I think that kind of attitude is lamentable. I’ve been a professional systems engineer with Windows servers 75% or so of my life, and while I’m not as good at UNIX/Linux, I get was trained up with (in school) BSD UNIX and continue to use Ubuntu as part of my Apple computing platforms at home (I have 3 Apple computers as well as 4 iOS devices at home). And yes, I use Terminal a lot, though to be honest, most of what I do at home is either gaming or using browsers with Internet-based applications.

Editors? I prefer vi.

I believe that it’s possible and preferable to deploy servers (Windows, UNIX, whatever) in a clean state so that logs show few if any regular notifications for any warning or higher priority event on a scale of minutes, hours, days. I believe that if you do that job and do other jobs of layering application layers on top of that clean state, that your servers will not require reboots for troubleshooting or maintenance.

This is the standard to which I aspire when I do my systems engineering work.

Anyway, by the numbers:

  • Production users: ~100,000/day
  • Total size of hosted content: ~ 17 TB
  • Total capacity of storage: ~ 75 TB
  • Peak IOps: ~40,000
  • Production farm servers:
    • Database Clusters: 7 (across 5 SharePoint farms)
    • SharePoint farm servers: ~30 (across 5 SharePoint farms)

I’ll add more specs as I have them and can share them.

Cloaking Engaged!

Since I’m on a job search, I’m going to cloak all but the most utilitarian and objective posts on this blog.

I also may tweak the sign-up rules or something.

But anyhow, just a little bit about the job search:

I’m a 20 year IT professional, most recently an all-hats wearing Ops guy for the past 7 years, supporting primarily Windows-based SharePoint farms, but also various other farms, some not Windows. As a senior resource in the team I’m often tasked with figuring new things out, scripting, integrating various kinds of data, reverse engineering things, documenting them, working with other IT specialists to figure out how to hook their stuff up to my stuff, leveraging my knowledge of authentication (Kerberos, claims, simple) and cryptography (encryption, certificates, Kerberos), and other neat and interesting side-interests and geekeries (Network design/engineering/troubleshooting, caching, data integration, data and search architecture, systems design and engineering, OSX, UNIX, Linux, file translations and encodings, etc., ad infinitum).

My latest assignments:

  • Splunk (end-to-end implementations including focus on field extractions and other back-end configurations, as well as configuring searches, dashboards and apps/plugins)
  • SharePoint 2013 end-to-end Implementation, including requirements gathering and analysis, full SDLC engineering, design and implementation of farm, and migration of SharePoint 2010 teamsites and custom intranets to the new SharePoint 2013 farm, application proxying or other ways of abstracting SharePoint 2013 farms across (AD) domain and network domains.

So that’s my geek life in a nutshell.

At home I like cooking and food experiments and beer and gaming (board and video) and the exploring endless wonders and boundless seas of the Internet, all in the company of my sweetie and my cat.

Mason Bees

I learned about and saw my first Orchard Mason bee this weekend, helping friends/neighbors put up a bee house as part of just hanging out.

They are cute, green and fuzzy! They look like houseflies in their greenness but they are fuzzy like the bees that we’re used to (but that are apparently not native to the U.S.).

While we were figuring out the logistics of bee house hanging, one of the cocoons warmed up enough to hatch and a cute fuzzy little bee came out.

The house my neighbor put up is sold by Our Native Bees.

Subtitles in Netflix on Apple TV

This is so seriously unadvertised it’s almost criminal (and is it, under the ADA? I don’t know.).

Anyway, for titles on Netflix that support it, with Apple TV’s newest 4.4.2 update (I don’t know if it was supported earlier than that – I just figured it out), you start playing the title, then you press the up key and then hold down the select key (for more options). This should take you to a menu where you can select subtitles, if any are available.

I started looking for this after I noticed, after my iPad’s iOS 5 upgrade, that the Netflix app on that platform was also finally supporting subtitles.

This isn’t so much an issue for me (though I like them in general – though I sometimes feel like they give away punchlines) but for my Dad it really does matter a lot.

UPDATE: Also after the title starts playing, if you just click and hold down the select key (the one in the center of the directional button ring), the subtitles screen should immediately show up (if any are available for your title).

Inspiron 1521 – Total makeover!

Please read the Update 2 at the bottom for how this finally turned out (poorly). The guidance I give is good, I think, in general, but for this platform, not so much. The hard drive issues continue to this day, no matter which drive I use. I have decided to abandon the laptop entirely and just buy a Mac Mini Server, because I got tired of troubleshooting the problem and just want to move on.

I’ve been upgrading the Dell Inspiron 1521 that I traded an iPad 1 to Dad for last month. It’s not by any stretch of the imagination a performance laptop even in its fully upgraded state, but it’s pretty good, so I figured I should post about the hardware and software (and especially drivers) that I used to get it where it is today.

I often post about this kind of stuff not out of attention seeking but partly because there are friends who are interested in this kind of thing and partly because I didn’t find an easily digestible central source of the information – I figure I give back to the Internet as a whole by centralizing it for the next person who might want to do this.

I should probably mention, now I think of it, that this will void the crap out of your warranty. So wait until it expires!

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