Comment On A Fat Pipe

The 1990’s: a simpler time, when our cell phones only made noise when we had an incoming call, and the most amusing thing a computer could do was render 3D pipes, or flying toasters. The CTO of Paul’s company, Mario, was easily amused. [expand full text]
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Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-03-28 07:59 • by georgir
I don't get it. First he used a performance monitor on the live server and verified that the screensaver caused the difference. Then when he had to convince his boss, he instead went for a simulated environment... why?

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-03-28 07:59 • by olaf (unregistered)
I never knew pipes was based on OpenGL. Pretty cool I guess!

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-03-28 08:15 • by Pero perić (unregistered)
404309 in reply to 404304
olaf:
I never knew pipes was based on OpenGL. Pretty cool I guess!

Because you can't rely on having DirectX support on Windows.

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 06:42 • by Medinoc
TRWTF is that a bleeping screen saver would not run with reduced CPU priority. Especially a multi-thread one.

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 06:52 • by Chris (unregistered)
Yeah, that was something everybody in support back then had figured out pretty quickly, you can't run any of the OpenGL screen savers on a Windows server. Well, you could but it rendered (get it.. HAHA) the machine almost useless.

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 07:08 • by Nintendo (unregistered)
frist to notice the video game references.

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 07:16 • by Tim (unregistered)
Why didn't he ask Luigi for a second opinion?

Captcha: Causa- Causa Luigi wassa busy else-a-where..

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 07:21 • by Paul T (unregistered)
I don't recall submitting this so I'd like to know which of my former co workers it was who did. You left out the part where we dragged an old 486 out of a closet and installed linux and apache and demonstrated much, much better performance, or the fact that we had an identical dual pentium pro machine for our visual source safe repository and the CTO kept putting the OpenGL screen saver on it as well.

The company in question was named after an unusually colored fresh water crustacean.

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 07:22 • by faoileag (unregistered)
Can anybody please tell me why you would run a screen saver on a server?? Even the ones sporting MS operating systems usually run in the server room, and the only screen saver you would need is the power button on the monitor attached to it for the occasional maintenance.

That said, in a company where the CTO does not see a problem with a screensaver running on a webserver (to stress the point again), I would probably update my resume and hit stepstone right after filing the request for a bigger network pipe.

And I would file that request with a smile, not begrudgingly: the webserver might not need it, but there are so many other things you can do with the extra network bandwidth... like playing quake with another developer from a shop a few hundred miles away ;-)

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 07:23 • by Ash (unregistered)
Would threatening to apply a length of pipe to the head help resolve the issue? Pipes, the cause and solution of so many problems!

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 07:23 • by ¯\(°_o)/¯ I DUNNO LOL (unregistered)
After a few moments, he looked at the log and when the screen saver kicked it, it monopolized the entire processor on their dual CPU box.
TRWTF is how the screen saver kicked the log. It could have stubbed a toe from that! Maybe he should have used a bucket instead?

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 07:24 • by Paul T (unregistered)
405059 in reply to 404303
The point was to show that it wasn't the t3 line that was causing the slow down, it was his idiot configuration of the server. We got way better performance out of way less capable hardware just by configuring it better. And by using a 486 running Linux with only a text console, he couldn't fuck it up with fancy screen savers.

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 07:29 • by F (unregistered)
405060 in reply to 405059
Paul T:
The point was to show that it wasn't the t3 line that was causing the slow down, it was his idiot configuration of the server. We got way better performance out of way less capable hardware just by configuring it better. And by using a 486 running Linux with only a text console, he couldn't fuck it up with fancy screen savers.


Come off it. A CTO of that calibre could fuck anything up.

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 07:39 • by Tractor (unregistered)
405062 in reply to 405060
F:
Paul T:
The point was to show that it wasn't the t3 line that was causing the slow down, it was his idiot configuration of the server. We got way better performance out of way less capable hardware just by configuring it better. And by using a 486 running Linux with only a text console, he couldn't fuck it up with fancy screen savers.


Come off it. A CTO of that calibre could fuck anything up.


Like with a heavy duty ascii art screensaver.

while true; do sl; done;

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 07:46 • by Geoff (unregistered)
405063 in reply to 405056
faoileag:
Can anybody please tell me why you would run a screen saver on a server??


Because you have a display attached obviously. It was probably a crt that you did not want to cycle on and off rapidly and also should not display a single image for long periods (though this was never much of an issue with color displays). Even in those days lots of them were energy star and would go to standby after a while; so screen savers sorta made sense; simply blanking was probably the best choice.

faoileag:
That said, in a company where the CTO does not see a problem with a screensaver running on a webserver (to stress the point again), I would probably update my resume and hit stepstone right after filing the request for a bigger network pipe.


Yes you should do that today. I think you are seriously underestimating just how immature much of, though not all of, the industry was when the hardware in question was in wide use. While virtually nobody in an IT specific role today would be that clueless; it was not nearly so uncommon in the mid '90s.

It was also not uncommon in those days for the web server to be a single machine with no redundancy in tower(not rack) configuration to be sitting on the floor of the telephone DMARC room with its monitor and keyboard precariously set on top of it. There might have been a UPS on the floor next to it if you were lucky and the server would actually be plugged into it if you were very lucky.

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 07:50 • by Pista (unregistered)
I would laugh on this story, but unfortunately Mario is not the only idiot whose sole competence is to configure fancy screensavers. The story recalled me painful memories and now I just cry.

PS: Even though I'm opposed to the death penalty, I'd send without hesitation all the Marios to the chair.

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 08:01 • by drake (unregistered)
405065 in reply to 405063
Geoff:
faoileag:
Can anybody please tell me why you would run a screen saver on a server??


Because you have a display attached obviously. It was probably a crt that you did not want to cycle on and off rapidly and also should not display a single image for long periods (though this was never much of an issue with color displays). Even in those days lots of them were energy star and would go to standby after a while; so screen savers sorta made sense; simply blanking was probably the best choice.

faoileag:
That said, in a company where the CTO does not see a problem with a screensaver running on a webserver (to stress the point again), I would probably update my resume and hit stepstone right after filing the request for a bigger network pipe.


Yes you should do that today. I think you are seriously underestimating just how immature much of, though not all of, the industry was when the hardware in question was in wide use. While virtually nobody in an IT specific role today would be that clueless; it was not nearly so uncommon in the mid '90s.

It was also not uncommon in those days for the web server to be a single machine with no redundancy in tower(not rack) configuration to be sitting on the floor of the telephone DMARC room with its monitor and keyboard precariously set on top of it. There might have been a UPS on the floor next to it if you were lucky and the server would actually be plugged into it if you were very lucky.



Woah - you actually beleive that it is uncommon today for IT to be that clueless?

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 08:09 • by Doctor_of_Ineptitude (unregistered)
Why is everyone missing the obvious? Mario wanted a fatter internet connection and Paul was becoming a hindrance in his plan by claiming an alternate explanation for slowness.
That is why Mario is the CTO, not Paul.

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 08:10 • by ubersoldat
I'm not sure which is TRWTF: a (so called) server OS with GUI or the people who evangelist it.

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 08:13 • by ZoomST (unregistered)
To get bigger network pipe, just do:
1) configure the screensaver to create fatter pipes.
2) ????
3) Profit!

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 08:21 • by Geoff (unregistered)
405069 in reply to 405065
drake:
Woah - you actually beleive that it is uncommon today for IT to be that clueless?

Alright, they may be that clueless but they are not ignorant of the forms. They have seen enough tv and movies to know what a data center rack should look like.

So even if in the strictest cargo cult sense, we have to have a EIA rack with a KVM to make the magic happen, some stuff gets done just a little better as a result.

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 08:31 • by Vilx- (unregistered)
Pipe Recommendations

As an aid to our customers, the following is a list of pipe recommendations for laying waterlines and other such uses around the drill site. Naturally, each drill site requirement or customer preference will cause variations. The following list is only offered as a general guide for pipe selection.

1. All pipe is to be made of a long hole, surrounded by metal or plastic, centered around the hole.

2. All pipe is to be holed throughout the entire length. Do not use holes of different length than the pipe.

3. The ID (Inside Diameter) of all pipe must not exceed the OD (Outside Diameter). Othervise the hole will be on the outside.

4. All pipe is to be supplied with nothing in the hole, so that water, steam or other stuff can be put inside at a later date.

5. All pipe should be supplied without rust. This can be more readily applied at the job site. (Note! Some vendors are now able to supply pre-rusted pipe. If available in your area, this new product is recommended as it will save a great deal of time at the job site)

6. A long pipe over 500ft (153m) in length should have the words LONG PIPE clearly painted on each end, so the drill crew will know it is a long pipe.

7. Pipe over two miles (3,2 km) in length must also have the words LONG PIPE painted in the middle, so the crew will not have to walk the entire length of the pipe to determine whether it is a long pipe or short pipe.

8. All pipe over 6in (152mm) in diameter must have the words LARGE PIPE painted on it, so the drill crew will not mistake it for a small pipe.

9. Flanges should be used on all pipe. Flanges must have holes for bolts quite separate from the big hole in the middle.

10. When ordering 90 deg, 45 deg or 30 deg elbows, be sure to specify right-hand or left-hand. Othervise you will end up going in the wrong direction.

11. Be sure to specify to your vendor whether you want level, up-hill or down-hill pipe. If you use down-hill pipe for going up-hill, the water will flow the wrong way.

12. All couplings should have either right-hand or left-hand threads. Do not mix the threads. Othervise, as the coupling is being screwed on the pipe, it is unscrewing from the other.

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 08:39 • by faoileag (unregistered)
405071 in reply to 405063
Geoff:
faoileag:
Can anybody please tell me why you would run a screen saver on a server??

Because you have a display attached obviously. It was probably a crt that you did not want to cycle on and off rapidly

crt... I think I remember those... big square box that gets slimmer towards the rear, amirite? But seriously: yes, you need a monitor attached to a server. But you wouldn't powercycle it rapidly - you would switch it on, do your stuff, switch it off again and then it would sit there powerless for days or maybe even weeks. Even in the nineties, server administration was not something you would do several times a day.

Geoff:
faoileag:
That said, in a company where the CTO does not see a problem with a screensaver running on a webserver (to stress the point again), I would probably update my resume and hit stepstone right after filing the request for a bigger network pipe.

Yes you should do that today.

No need to do that at my current company, thank goodness for that :-)

But although one single incident in the past has never been enough, on one or two occasions the powers in charge and their idea about running a shop did indeed have influence on my decision to search for employment elsewhere.

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 09:02 • by Martin (unregistered)
People complaining of slow website? In 1990?

Please!

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 09:04 • by Ironside (unregistered)
405073 in reply to 405056
Can anybody please tell me why you would run a screen saver on a server??


To save the screen

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 09:15 • by faoileag (unregistered)
405074 in reply to 405072
Martin:
People complaining of slow website? In 1990? Please!

In that day and age, "slow" was a different kind of slow than the one in common use today.

I remember an email from 1996, when somebody was asking me if I could split my webpage (40k) into several pages, because "anything over 20k takes ages to load from my college access, if it finishes at all".

Or some personal experience from 1995: with a 1200/1200 modem, a small (80k) gif took nearly an hour to load :-)

But tell that to the kids today, and they won't believe you! ;-)

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 09:16 • by magnus (unregistered)
405075 in reply to 405056
Because you had monitors attached. This was before the age of Remote Control of Windows and other servers.

Novell Netware featured the best ever server screen saver.

It was made up of one or more snakes running around the screen like in the good old computer game.

Each snake would have a different color. The length and speed of the snake would indicate the load of the given CPU.

Being 80x25 text mode it was also a quite efficient and "nice" running process...

Magnus

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 09:18 • by NotAPussyLikePaul (unregistered)
Paul is a WTF too. Just tell the guy he is wrong and never ever would I have done a request for a bigger "network pipe".

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 09:19 • by Magnus (unregistered)
405077 in reply to 405056
faoileag:
Can anybody please tell me why you would run a screen saver on a server?? Even the ones sporting MS operating systems usually run in the server room, and the only screen saver you would need is the power button on the monitor attached to it for the occasional maintenance.


Because you had monitors attached. This was before the age of Remote Control of Windows and other servers.

You would og to the server room, put on your white lab coat - or a down jacket - and sit right there in the room working.


Novell Netware featured the best ever server screen saver.

It was made up of one or more snakes running around the screen like in the good old computer game.

Each snake would have a different color. The length and speed of the snake would indicate the load of the given CPU.

Perfect way to show the server load, no need to log on to the console to check.

Being 80x25 text mode it was also a quite efficient and "nice" running process...

Magnus

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 09:35 • by Lorne Kates
Take a video of the screensaver running.

Disable the screen saver.

Write a custom script to play the video (looped) after so many minutes of inactivity (and stop the video when the keyboard/mouse moves).

Make sure the video is in a nice format, and the video player is hobbled to only use a fraction of the CPU the screen saver would. Hopefully playing a video is less expensive than constantly rendering the pipes.

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 09:35 • by faoileag (unregistered)
405079 in reply to 405077
Magnus:
faoileag:
Can anybody please tell me why you would run a screen saver on a server?? Even the ones sporting MS operating systems usually run in the server room, and the only screen saver you would need is the power button on the monitor attached to it for the occasional maintenance.

Because you had monitors attached.

I see. You need a screensaver when there is more than one monitor attached ;-)

SCNR

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 09:36 • by Lorne Kates
OR if you want to get real fancy:

Set up a second computer with the pipes screen saver.

Hack a KVM so act like a screen saver-- IE, when there's no input from A for a certain amount of time, switch to B. As soon as there's any activity on A, switch back to it. Ignore all input from B.

Disable the screen saved on A.

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 09:43 • by jello (unregistered)
If you run an OS that an idiot can configure, an idiot will configure it.

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 09:56 • by David (unregistered)
405083 in reply to 405070
Windows NT, he argued, was so easy to use that any idiot could set it up.

... and many do. What Paul apparently did not realize is that the idiot part was a requirement at that company.

Vilx-:
Pipe Recommendations

As an aid to our customers, the following is a list of pipe recommendations for laying waterlines and other such uses around the drill site. Naturally, each drill site requirement or customer preference will cause variations. The following list is only offered as a general guide for pipe selection.

<...>

3. The ID (Inside Diameter) of all pipe must not exceed the OD (Outside Diameter). Othervise the hole will be on the outside.

<...>

6. A long pipe over 500ft (153m) in length should have the words LONG PIPE clearly painted on each end, so the drill crew will know it is a long pipe.

7. Pipe over two miles (3,2 km) in length must also have the words LONG PIPE painted in the middle, so the crew will not have to walk the entire length of the pipe to determine whether it is a long pipe or short pipe.

<...>


Broken English and snark aside, this reads scarily similar to some of the more WTF bureaucraticese guidelines I have received.

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 09:58 • by VAXcat (unregistered)
The screensaver wouldn't have been an issue if Windows (any version) did a halfway decent job of task scheduling, memory allocation and sharing. Of course, if Windows did that, the practice of dedicating one machine to one task wouldn't have caught on. Then, we wouldn't have de-evolved into the current sorry state, where VMware is the defacto operating system, and the basic scheduleable task of work for each job is...an entire copy of Windows and one application...

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 10:03 • by MB (unregistered)
Obviously the real solution at that time would be to install a 3d accelarator in the server!

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 10:03 • by operagost
405086 in reply to 405067
ubersoldat:
I'm not sure which is TRWTF: a (so called) server OS with GUI or the people who evangelist it.

I'm not sure which is TRWTF: an OS zealot who thinks every server task is a nail, or the horrible grammar of his smug posts.

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 10:06 • by Yoshi (unregistered)
Anybody else read Mario's dialogue in Charles Martinet's voice?

Also, TRWTF is running an OpenGL program on a server

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 10:09 • by operagost
405088 in reply to 405074
faoileag:
Martin:
People complaining of slow website? In 1990? Please!

In that day and age, "slow" was a different kind of slow than the one in common use today.

I remember an email from 1996, when somebody was asking me if I could split my webpage (40k) into several pages, because "anything over 20k takes ages to load from my college access, if it finishes at all".

Or some personal experience from 1995: with a 1200/1200 modem, a small (80k) gif took nearly an hour to load :-)

But tell that to the kids today, and they won't believe you! ;-)

This 40 year old kid thinks you must have had a really noisy phone line, because that should have taken less than 12 minutes.

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 10:11 • by operagost
405089 in reply to 405084
VAXcat:
The screensaver wouldn't have been an issue if Windows (any version) did a halfway decent job of task scheduling, memory allocation and sharing.

Because there totally haven't been any improvements in that regard since 1996. *sigh*

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 10:20 • by faoileag (unregistered)
405090 in reply to 405088
operagost:
faoileag:

Or some personal experience from 1995: with a 1200/1200 modem, a small (80k) gif took nearly an hour to load :-)

But tell that to the kids today, and they won't believe you! ;-)

This 40 year old kid thinks you must have had a really noisy phone line, because that should have taken less than 12 minutes.

Either that or the service provider didn't let me have the full bandwidth the modem was capable of. Given the state of the line from the ground up to my bedsit, probably a combination of both :-)

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 10:24 • by RichP
405092 in reply to 405063
Geoff:


It was also not uncommon in those days for the web server to be a single machine with no redundancy in tower(not rack) configuration to be sitting on the floor of the telephone DMARC room with its monitor and keyboard precariously set on top of it. There might have been a UPS on the floor next to it if you were lucky and the server would actually be plugged into it if you were very lucky.


You forgot the $4.99 power strip (with brightly glowing power swtich!) plugged into the UPS so that the web server, the monitor, the KVM, the firewall, the DNS server the, router, the file server, the modem bank and the email server can all plug into the UPS.

Then CTO asks "why does the UPS have such poor runtime? it's a big expensive UPS, it should run longer than 5 minutes" (um, yea, if you load it to 95% of its capacity, never change the batteries, have extended outages 3 times per summer, and keep the ambient temp in the "server room" at 88F...).

(side note: we had an email server with redundant power supplies... that used a single power cord. Also had a webserver with real dual supplies (each with its own cord) which inevitably ended up plugged into the same power strip.

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 10:25 • by Andrew (unregistered)
405093 in reply to 405076
NotAPussyLikePaul:
Paul is a WTF too. Just tell the guy he is wrong and never ever would I have done a request for a bigger "network pipe".


Yeah, Paul screwed up at least 3 times here:

1) His only explanation to his boss was "It was something really simple", instead of actually explaining the problem the first time.
2) "Proving" the source of the issue to his boss via a simulated environment rather than just showing him the test logs he already had (as was mentioned).
3) Giving up completely in the end.

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 10:25 • by PG4 (unregistered)
Wow. Had something like this happen at our shop back in the 90s also. Slightly different. The machine in question was SUN server running Ingres and also serving files over NFS. It supported an app on less than 10 disk-less SUN clients.

The architect of the application thought the SUN/Ingres combination just couldn't be beat. So the application that was running just fine on a VAX Cluster had to be re-written. After a few years and dropped support for a bunch of other packages used to glue everything together, the application was re-written again and put back on the VAX/Alpha Cluster.

The architect was PITA to work with, and only one sysadmin, Todd that was the source many other WTFs, agreed to be part of the project.

Todd kept complaining about the users calling him with performance issues, and when he would go look at the SUN server he could never find any problem. Around the same time, the users said everything got better, never mind.

One of the other sysadmins figured it out one day. He happened to walk by the SUN server and see what was on the screen. Todd was real lazy, he never logged off of the console as root, and after some time, Xswarm would fire up as screen saver.

One WTF is graphics heads on DB servers.

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 10:25 • by Pero perić (unregistered)
Thank you again Olaf for another day of spoiled surprise.

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 11:04 • by Steve (unregistered)
HA!

Had something similar happen back in '96 while working for a large cell phone provider who eventually started selling iphones and became really big. We were contracted to deploy Win95 and NT 4.0 file/print servers. In that case the CTO had decided we buy these high end DEC Alpha servers. I seem to remember those things being $75k each.

It wasn't the CTO that put the 3D pipes on, it was actually the server admin who thought it was cool how fast it ran. That is until users complained about speed accessing their files. A day or two of this, and I stuck my nose in there and identified the CPU issue with the screen saver.

That solved the performance problem. There was a bigger problem though. We'd bought 4 servers, had deployed only one of them with the other 3 being slated for different sites. But because the hardware kept failing, to keep the one deployed server running we had to scavenge pieces from the other 3. DEC was slow at delivering replacement parts. I think after the CPU failed for the 2nd or 3rd time finally someone convinced the CTO that being a DEC only shop wasn't such a great idea, and they brought in Compaq servers.

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 11:04 • by Coyne
Just being devil's advocate here, as I'm sure it is all quite reasonable. So let's take a peek inside the manager's brain:

1) Even though the server is in a closet, from time to time visiting dignitaries will be shown around in there.

2) There must be something impressive for the dignitaries to see. Servers that just sit there are not impressive.

3) What could possibly be more impressive than an OpenGL Pipes screen saver, drawing big pipes? They prove we are open and impressive. They also show we have big pipes!

4) But of course the big pipes must be drawn as fast as possible, because otherwise they're not impressive.

5) Everyone knows that screen savers do not use CPU. I use one on my desktop and my programs are still running happily away when I switch off the screen saver.

6) Big pipes are impressive: Both on the screen and to the web. We definitely want everyone to know we have big pipes!

7) Everyone knows if the web is slow, it's because the pipes are too small. We need a bigger pipe!

8) I am the boss. I am in charge. Therefore, I'm smarter than the peon who says the web is slow because of the screen saver. I know we need a bigger pipe!

9) This is a great company! I know this is true because we have big pipes!

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 11:26 • by Rysto (unregistered)
405098 in reply to 404303
> Windows NT, he argued, was so easy to use that any idiot could set it up. This made
> Mario the prime candidate to configure their behemoth of a web server

Nice.

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 11:33 • by OS Agnocist (unregistered)
What you have there is a Chief TOOL Officer. One who has drunk so fully (and repeatedly) of the MS Kool-Aid that they believe any BS that is sent out on the monthly newsletter about how great microsoft is. In some cases the right answer is MS, in others it's *nix, in others it's Apple.

Re: A Fat Pipe

2013-04-08 11:33 • by Unknown Dan (unregistered)
I too had to disable the pipes screensaver on our NT server. Couldn't figure out why sometimes I could access VSS and other times I couldn't.
<Great story icon>
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