Feature Articles

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Limited Options

2014-07-23
Security is challenging to get right. It's always a complex balancing act between what users want and what administrators need. Between placing the server in a hermetically sealed container with no cables running the outside world, and setting the server up on the busiest street corner in town with an already logged-in administrator account pulled up on the attached monitor. Depending on the O/S update policy in practice at your company, that last example can be roughly the equivalent of connecting your server to the Internet.
As an IT infrastructure manager, Jerry spent more time skimming his junkmail folder than he liked. Unfortunately, a large number of important messages landed there, because Garrett, the CSO, mandated an extremely aggressive approach to identifying spam. No less than once a week, a vital message was marked as spam.

Just Roll With It

2014-07-15
DBAs are supposed to bring knowledge of the underpinnings of databases to the table. How to lay out tables and indices across disks for linear vs. striped access. How to properly set up partitioning for different types of access. Granting assorted privileges and roles. Managing backup and aging off data in a controlled manner, and so forth.
A large company is something like a whale. They are huge beasts who strain their sustenance (profits) from the ocean that surrounds them. In this analogy, customers are krill, but their employees are more like Jonah- wrapped up inside of a beast larger and more complex than they can possibly imagine.
It's the 4th of July, which is the day the US attempts to forget they ever pretended to like soccer through wild displays of patriotism and fireworks. It's also a holiday, so enjoy this WTF from the archives, The Program Generator Program from 2012.

if(useTCP) return;

2014-07-03
A long, long time ago, in a phone company long since gone and resurrected, if Aunt Bee wanted to call Sheriff Andy, she picked up the phone, pressed the receiver a couple of times, the operator picked up, Bee said to connect her to Andy, and the operator shoved a jack into a hole to complete the circuit. For long distance calls, two or more operators and switchboards were involved. It left something to be desired, but it worked.

Scriptzilla

2014-07-01
In the late 90s, Jeremy fought a battle against a menace more terrifying than the dreaded Y2K bug. He maintained a network management application running on Solaris which managed TDM and ATM switches, called PortLog. This prototype CMDB maintained a database of all of the equipment in the network. It created a unique identifier encoded each device’s shelf, slot and port number according to a “magic” formula. That formula needed to change in the next release, thus forcing the unique ID of each device to change as well, in every deployed instance of their database.
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