[ Originally a Facebook post, copied here for posterity. ]
Some thirty years ago I was told the story of a server with an oil lamp on the side (the kind that Greek Orthodox people light to honor God and the Saints). It was put there to humor the situation: the server need not break under any circumstance.
Well, it has been my experience of many years, sectors and shops of different sizes, that no matter what, there is always at least one key system that “needs” an oil lamp by its side in the organization. A system that is critical enough to warrant all the attention it gets, yet so critical that nobody risks upgrading / changing / phasing it out during their tenure (the system is guaranteed to outlive them; I count three such systems that have outlived me). Untouchable systems that get replaced only when they physically die.
Seek out who needs an oil lamp. Plan accordingly.
[ There’s another “law” that follows as a result of the oil-lamp, but maybe for another time. ]
I’m into this for so many years, I cannot even remember when I started. root, IT guy, system administrator, goto person, SRE, DevOps, whatever acronym life brings next. And all that, because at some point in time while still an undergraduate, I told my friend Panos:
“You see those guys? One day, we’ll be doing their work.”
“Nah”, he said, “they’re gods”.
Because that’s what they looked to us. They still do to me. Because at least one of them, with whom I’ve kept contact, is a moving CS encyclopedia. And then it struck me. They did not really want to do the work. They needed a platform to test all the cool things they read about, in production. They were architects before it was cool.
And that is what their “divine” power was: to know about all things CS. We did end up doing their work.
Somehow, that’s what drives me. I drop things off along the way (“I will not invest in learning this”) but still, I do not drop as many as the typical 9to5er. And that takes its toll, it is painful and once in a while rewarding.
Happy Sysadmin Day.
These thoughts are triggered by the hey release, but they are otherwise unrelated.
Every now and then, an application comes along, grabs substantial userbase and claims to have solved the “issue” with email, texting and whatever memorabilia you want to share with your friends. Provided you’re part of their locked garden. Various pricing models are applied here. Math your heart out.
However, here is the thing: each one of them, requires your lock-in to that application. That’s how I ended up with 16 texting (or similar) applications on my phone. Because my contacts, personal and customers demand their favorite platform for my attention.
And that is why email will never die. It works most of the time and it does not matter who your provider is: Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, Protonmail, Fastmail, a local Exchange server, some postfix running on an RPi. It does not matter. Granted, when your message does not go through, there may be insurmountable hoops to jump, but in the end, email is still the ubiquitous text application that works for everyone, everywhere between big walled gardens and even your own backyard if you care to run it on your own. And that is why, even though email is not instant messaging, people (OK not my kids) still treat it like it being such.
I am still undecided whether to invest in Hey. The application looks good, the web client also, but the cost of switching from my current walled garden (that also offers some identity services) is big.
I was reading the beginning of the History of Clojure (a language that I have no time to invest in learning, but still interesting to me):
I started working on Clojure in 2005, during a sabbatical I funded out of retirement savings. The purpose of the sabbatical was to give myself the opportunity to work on whatever I found interesting, without regard to outcome, commercial viability or the opinions of others. One might say these are prerequisites for working on Lisps or functional languages.
If you want to make any dent in the world, you either make it at a personal cost (not always monetary), or with other people’s money. Savings I have none. Self realizations are evident.
[ Το αντιγράφω από ανάρτηση που έκανα στο Facebook ]
Υπάρχει πολύς κόσμος που επειδή δεν έχει την εμπειρία του WFH, νομίζει πως αυτό που ζούμε τώρα, στις επείγουσες καταστάσεις του προηγούμενου διμήνου είναι η τηλεεργασία. Δεν είναι.
WFH, σημαίνει πως είμαι στο σπίτι (ή σε κάποιο γραφείο όχι πολύ μακριά) και δεν χρειάζεται να είμαι στην έδρα του εργοδότη μου (που για να πάω και να γυρίσω μπορεί να χρειάζομαι 2 και βάλε ώρες κάθε μέρα).
Σημαίνει επίσης πως εγώ είμαι στο σπίτι και έχω ένα χώρο που για όσο δουλεύω είναι ο χώρος εργασίας μου και δεν είναι το υπνοδωμάτιο που μπορεί να είναι προσβάσιμο στον καθένα. Δεν είναι.
Σημαίνει επίσης, πως εγώ είμαι στο σπίτι. Τα παιδιά (αν υπάρχουν) είναι στο σχολείο και το ίδιο και το έταιρο ήμισυ, είναι στον εργασιακό του χώρο (εκτός κι αν επίσης τηλεεργάζεται).
Σημαίνει επίσης πως υπάρχει γραμμή σύνδεσης στο δίκτυο αρκετή για να σηκώσει τη δουλειά, υπάρχει εναλλακτική με data από την κινητή αν χρειάζεται (είναι ξεκαθαρισμένο ποιος τα πληρώνει αυτά εξαρχής) και πως υπάρχει υπολογιστής για να κάνω εγώ και μόνο εγώ την δουλειά μου σε αυτόν.
Τώρα όταν έχεις ανθρώπους που βρεθήκανε ξαφνικά να πρέπει να δουλέψουν από το σπίτι έχοντας ένα μόνο υπολογιστή (για δύο εργαζόμενους στην καλή περίπτωση) που υπήρχε για recreational activities και χωρίς το απαραίτητο software και επιπλέον και παιδιά να πρέπει να κάνουν εργασίες, skype για φροντιστήριο, να παίξουν κάτι και να παρακολουθήσουν streaming με την πιο φτηνή σύνδεση που αντέχει το πορτοφόλι τους, την ώρα που εσύ θα πρέπει να εργάζεσαι, αυτό δεν το λένε “δουλειά από το σπίτι”, αλλά “δουλειά με το σπίτι”.
Τα γράφω αυτά γιατί το τυχαίο νοικοκυριό δύσκολα θα έχει την υπολογιστική επάρκεια που έχει το δικό μου (όπως κι εγώ δεν έχω τόσους κάβουρες ή κόφτες όσους έχουν ένας ηλεκτρολόγος και ένας υδραυλικός).
So you have your laptop with Windows 10 and you also need to run Ubuntu for some reason. Even if Ubuntu is the main OS, you may want to keep Windows around for the occasional system upgrade (Dell Update comes to mind for example) and software that runs exclusively one one of the two platforms (UCINET is such a program for me).
You are then faced with two problems:
- Default boot operating system
- The clock gets descynchronized when rebooting between the two operating systems.
StackExchange comes to the rescue. For the first problem you have to modify grub. I have chosen to make so that upon reboot, it will boot the previous operating system it did, unless I choose otherwise via the menu. I use the saved method from this answer.
For the second issue, there are a number of answers that usually involve tweaking systemd or the windows registry, but the easiest thing you can do is to ensure that the windows time service is started automatically with a delay.
Let’s break this blog’s hiatus with an uninteresting post.
I am still a heavy email user. I am subscribed to more mailing lists and newsletters than most can handle, and even I, after almost 30 years of email usage, am feeling INBOX fatigue. I unsubscribe and delete unread mail without remorse. However there are a handful of newsletters that I think I am going to keep around for as long as they are around. These are:
- Fermat’s Library. I won’t claim that I understand either every paper, or commentary on paper of the week. But I get interesting, yet never pursued, ideas sometimes.
- The morning paper. More CS centric and also I won’t claim to always grasp the subject (or even like it). But still, good things to consider here.
- Quanta magazine. Science concepts delivered in a way they can be understood.
- The porcupine newsletter. Because if I had time, I’d want to post a newsletter and follow its style.
So what are yours?