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Archive for the ‘real life’ Category

Booster Update

Boo is 13 now, and will be 14 in June.  She’s been losing weight noticeably.   We had blood work done, and it came back with all ok– not thyroid, liver function, or diabetes, any of which can cause weight loss in older cats.   Meanwhile, her coat is still thick and glossy and soft, and when she was in for her annual in September, the vet and the techs all said she seemed like a much younger cat than her age.

I took Boo in for an x-ray today.  She’d lost another quarter-pound, in just 2 weeks, but nothing obviously wrong on the x-ray.  The doctor will call me tomorrow (her regular doctor wasn’t in).

The vet-tech said that she is not bony; she sees really emaciated cats and Boo is nowhere near there.  Boo was 13+ pounds over a year ago, and her weight has been slowly and steadily coming down since we took them off dry food entirely after the big pet-food recall.  It may just be that she’s been doing the equivalent of South Beach or Atkins for cats for close to a year now.

No need to panic unless the doctor comes up with a reason tomorrow.  We need to remember that Boo is not a huge cat, at least as far as bone structure.  Snark’s fairly muscular weight is still just around 8 pounds.  Boo is currently at 9 pounds, 12 ounces.

The vet-tech did suggest fewer treats so that Boo would eat her normal food better.  That will take care of itself when I am working offsite daily, I suspect.  In the meantime, I will only ‘treat’ a couple times a day, and give only 2 or 3 Greenies instead of 5 or 6.

I know they can’t stay with us forever.  Boo and Snark came to me as kittens in October and December of 1994.  Someday they will pass on, and it’s likely to be within the next few years.  Lots of domestic housecats who are primarily indoor cats live to be 16, 18, even 20 is not uncommon anymore.   We’ll just be extra-good to them and hope for the best.

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So here I am in Dallas TX, at the annual LISA conference for systems administrators. It’s been a great conference so far, even though I haven’t gotten out of the hotel since I arrived on Sunday evening. Heck, I haven’t gotten off the lobby/2nd/3rd floor zone!

I love it when I can do all my teaching early in a conference and then just relax and enjoy myself. I did two half-day sessions on Monday, and both went really well– interested and involved participants, and compliments afterwards. I started off with my tried and true favorite Practical Project Management, that I ‘ve been teaching and refining for several years now. I estimate that I’ve trained over 200 IS professionals in project management at this point, with typical class sizes of 45 – 50, and in one case, 89 or 90 attendees. This year we didn’t do the advanced class, Project Troubleshooting, although we had a great session of that in June at the Usenix Annual Technical Conference.

The afternoon tutorial was a fairly new class that I developed in 2005, Problem-Solving for IT Professionals. We had a really spirited class discussion, and I was pointed to a great resource after class, a book (and Wikipedia entry about the book) called How to Solve It: A New Aspect of Mathematical Method, by Gregor Polya. It has a set of rules for generalizing problems, and looks useful in building more problem-solving processes. In the class I teach generalized processes, which I hesitate to call “patterns” as they’re not sufficiently rigorously expressed yet, such as server-client interactions, and introduce modified process taskflow diagrams that aid in debugging. It’s possible to debug applications that you have never seen before if you have a strong understanding of fundamental patterns of design and interaction in computer applications and systems.

Right now I’m liveblogging from the Advanced Topics Workshop. I’d been a regular at this workshop since 1996, but had missed the last couple of years due to scheduling conflicts (read: being scheduled to teach!). We’ve had an exhilarating day of sharing experiences, technology to watch out for, and learning what we’ve all been up to for the past year or so. Tomorrow are the keynote speeches, a quick tour of the vendor exhibits, and a book signing session from 12:30pm – 2pm at the conference bookstore. Then it’s back on a plane, back home to Sunnyvale!

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I’d been completely stumped earlier this year while attempting to try Second Life– the Mac client just “no va”, wouldn’t go, for me. I got an error suggesting that my DNS was busted and that I should try connecting to http://www.secondlife.com, and open a ticket if that didn’t work. How I was supposed to open said ticket if I had no IntarWebZ is left as a thought exercise, I suppose.

At any rate, after leaving it alone for the longest time, I was re-inspired to investigate this evening and found the problem. If I’d been a bit more Mac-savvy, I’d have found it long since– a good reminder that Mac OS is Not Unix, but something that Strongly Resembles Unix But With Quirks. Here is what I sent to the nice support folks at Second Life (who were quite helpful, but equally stumped along with me) this evening when I reopened the ticket:

I am reopening this so I can share the solution that I discovered with you. It turns out to be a very simple, yet very profound issue, and is easily diagnosed and corrected, so I want to be sure you add it to your solution base. It’s something to watch out for on folks running the Mac OS X client specifically.

Under Mac OS X, system applications, like Firefox, Safari, etc, use the built in resolver libraries. The Second Life client, like the nslookup utility, apparently is using classical DNS rather than the system libraries and using only /etc/resolv.conf to get information. The problem was that my /etc/resolv.conf file was no longer a link to /var/run/resolv.conf, and thsu was not supplying the correct information. This can happen for various reasons, including system updates, or booting without a network cable.

The symptom to identify this is if the person CAN get to http://www.secondlife.com from a browser, do ssh from a terminal/shell window, etc, but the Second Life client claims that there is a DNS error. This shows that the operating system is correctly doing name lookups via the built-in libraries, but that DNS is not correctly configured.

Diagnosis: Have the customer open up a terminal window and do “ls -l /etc/resolv.conf” and see if it is a symbolic link or a plain file. It should be a link to /var/run/resolv.conf.

Correction: If not, they should fix it: “sudo rm /etc/resolv.conf; sudo ln -s /var/run/resolv.conf /etc/resolv.conf”

If this does not resolve the problem, inspect the contents of /var/run/resolv.conf. If there is a problem with the network DHCP, there will not be any correct nameserver lines in the resolv.conf, and then that’s a client network problem not subject to quick fixes. 🙂

best regards,
Strata aka Maybear

See you online!

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For the curious, and those considering joining the happy-go-lucky ranks of amateur radio volunteers, here are 15 minutes of live SVECS repeater audio from the October 30th earthquake. One of the SVECS (Silicon Valley Emergency Communication Services) members was doing audio capture of something unrelated when the quake hit, and switched his input to get the repeater traffic. Note that I’m not on there; the traffic is local AEC’s, Area Emergency Coordinators, checking in to pass on reports overall from local nets like SPECS (Southern Peninsula Emergency Communication Services) or Sunnyvale ARES.

If this had been a serious earthquake, the dialogue would have been much more focused, and possibly somewhat grim. As it is, it’s a nice sample of folks following the standard procedures: creating a net, Net Control taking damage reports, etc. Mike and I self-activated, checked into the Sunnyvale SARES/SPECS network, and went to the main clubhouse to set up our comm station in case of damage here in our housing complex. It was a nice test run of our own procedures, and we found some things that need work– such as someone moving the Damage Report packets to an unknown location, and the portable antenna being moved to where debris would have hampered access to it in a stronger quake.

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We have a new October holiday, the Boosterversary. It’s a celebration of the Booster, whose photo adorns our homepage. Not only did Boo come to live with me in October (of 1994, when she was just a teensy kitunia) but last year in October, she was LOST. She was out at dusk and ran off, and was missing for several days.

I did all the usual lost-cat things: posters, going out and calling, shaking kitty-treat bags, and so on. A national lost-pet listing service gave me a unique piece of advice that I hadn’t found via any other venue: put one of your shirts outside in your backyard, a shirt that you have worn. The smellier, the better– a gym shirt is ideal. The woman who told me this said that she had, over the years, had many reports of people finding their lost pet sitting on the shirt the very next morning. She said that a persistently “lost” pet was often hurt and hiding, and not daring to come out, but that the shirt would represent your protection and safety to the pet and embolden it to remain outside its hiding place in daylight.

My husband woke up before me the next day, looked out the window, and said “She’s there! Boo is outside!” He ran to the porch and opened the back door to let her in. She had been sitting on the shirt. I called the hotline back and reported her as “found”. She had a nasty two-puncture bite that we treated at the vet’s, but was otherwise clean, well-groomed, and tidy. Clearly she’d found someplace to comfortably hide out during the several days of her absence. She had been missing at least 3 nights, maybe 4, by then.

Happy Boosterversary, Boo. Tonight, we dance the mamushka for you!

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Following links a couple of days ago, I found a really compelling and honest account of someone firing their employee. I didn't want to close the window, because one of the phrases was resonating so strongly with me.

This morning I summarized the teaching I found there and printed out two lines that I've now taped at the top of my monitor– because I need the reminder in this distraction-filled life. Two reminders, really: how to focus, and that people can't see inside each other's heads, we have to go on what we know externally.

“What you really do is who you are; what you say is just moving air. We show our true priorities in life by things we actually do.”
— SR Chalup

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We spent over 3 hours yesterday messing with our power box, ultimately replacing a 15-amp breaker and the main 100-amp distro breaker.

At least all this was happening on a sunny afternoon. Not dark (though we had a deadline that was very clearly advancing). Not rainy.

All of this started as my darling spouse decided that *his* high-priority shared housecleaning day project would be to “finally” replace the timer switch on the backyard floodlight with a regular switch.

*Headdesk*

But we lived, the house has juice again, and at least the LR got vacuumed and lots of recycling got taken outside & away.

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Just discovered the Apartment Therapy website, and the book. They do regular 8-week challenges, a la the Flylady folks, where you follow along in the book and wreak (chaotic good) havoc in your dwelling.

Starting tomorrow (Sept 5th): The Fall Cure.

I'm SO freakin' there. Who else is along for the ride? Woo!

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Via the latest Track Crew News.

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“When I see my life as a tragedy, I become a victim.
When I see my life as a triumph, I become empowered.
When I see my life as an endless stream of interconnected events, linked by compassion, I become Sakyamuni.”
–SR Chalup

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