Mariano Rivera or Aunt Jemima

I feel pretty good going into the weekend, physically and mentally. Physically I feel just about normal again. Mentally I got to talk with my guys and my boss about some stuff that had been on my mind. The business of needing to delegate more. It went over alright, probably mostly because I didn’t actually have a ton of stuff to hand over. If this had happened a month ago it might not have gone over as well.

All things considered the week is ending better than expected. I think I’ll feel like a new person going into next week.

I do like that work doesn’t generally feel like work. There’s not that resentment of spending time on stuff you don’t care about. Being happy in your work is underappreciated. It’s not a given that work has to suck, not even close.

I’m starting to accept that OneNote isn’t a 100% match for a GTD book. I found out about ZenDone fairly late in the day, but I’m going to play with it next week. It’s purpose-built to be a GTD tool, and integrates with Evernote, which isn’t bad. If it doesn’t work, I might just do the unthinkable: An analog system. That will be quite a readjustment, so I hope it doesn’t come to that. I can’t seeing it being better for me than some digital system. But, I’m also the one struggling here, so what do I know? I just find it hard to believe I’m better suited to analog than digital. It works for Stephen Covey, but he’s old enough to be my grandfather. He wasn’t surrounded by modern technology when he pioneered his productivity methods, same for David Allen. Companies like Moleskine love pointing out that plenty of 20- and 30-somethings are discovering the advantages of dead trees. I think it has more to do with the average person doesn’t really know much about how to wokrk a computer, regardless of age.

I really want Zendone to be the answer here, if that wasn’t obvious.

1, 2, 3, Cancun

Happy Read-Only Friday. It hasn’t been a tremendously successful week. Best I can do at this point is try to close it out strong. I’m jumping between writing this and sending out some emails, delegating some things that have sat for a while.

I’m sincerely hoping skipping coffee was strictly necessary. It’s a big difference.

I’ve been torture-testing myself in Rocket League, playing a lot of 3v1 and 4v1. I win all the games at 2v1, about half the games at 3v1, and none of the games at 4v1. It’s a pretty good test, really. Playing those unfair modes means you have to really play perfect, keeping the ball in front of you at all times. If you don’t, you won’t be in position to do anything about the counterattack. It also makes for good keeper training, just staying in goal and letting 4 players fire at you. If you don’t mind losing 15-0, you can get a lot out of your five minutes.

The Boston Celtics were knocked out last night in a rather lackluster display. I’m not sure whether that was more on the Hawks playing exceptionally well or the Celtics just not making their shots. The Hawks did rack up a shitload of blocks. Dennis Schroder is better than I gave him credit for, he made four or five really nice plays around the basket. Tonight there are three Game 6 games happening. The Blazers and the Hornets both have a chance to win their series at home. Honestly, it’s going to mean a hell of a lot more to the Blazers if they advance than the Clippers. So much of the media wrote the Blazers off at the start of the year. That wasn’t an outlandish thing to do, either. They lost 4 of their 5 starters and their 6th man. That represents like 80 points a game they needed to get elsewhere. And they’ve done exactly that. I can’t really say how happy I am for CJ McCollum.

Tomorrow is Game 1, Spurs vs. Thunder. Going to be a great series. Westbrook vs. Parker is way in favor of OKC, but Durant vs. Leonard might just be a push right now. Everything else favors the Spurs. I can’t believe the Thunder have gone this many years without solving their problem at Shooting Guard. At least they’ve got plus defenders out on the perimeter, they’re going to need them, and they’re going to really tighten up defensively. There are flashes when the Thunder operate, where they’re executing on the offensive end, finding the open man, but they’re also locked in defensively. When that happens they’re the best team in the league. But it’s not something they seem able to do on a consistent basis.

Monday is Game 1, Cavs vs. Hawks. If Atlanta executes like they did last night, this’ll be a series. It would be an ideal time for the Cavs to go to their small lineup with LeBron at the 4 and Love at the 5. Atlanta’s undersized inside, but they’re great shooters. I’m hoping this will be a better series than last year’s Eastern Conference Final.

Prorated

Partial credit is being issued today. I spent most of the day feeling ill and the resulting work and effort kind of reflected that. I should be better about that, but I’m a simple creature sometimes. Just like I don’t regret staying home yesterday, I don’t regret going in today. I was far more capable, but it just didn’t amount to much. I could’ve accomplished an equivalent amount in probably two hours any other day.

One of the odd things I’m wrestling with is a note that came out in my first evaluation. I need to delegate more, more managing of the work and employees and less technical involvement. That’s a totally reasonable request, but it’s a tough transition. In the last gig, I was doing most of the technical work at this tier, most of the time. At the same time, I resented not getting some assistance, though honestly most of the time there wasn’t anyone else available that was capable of doing the work. Now I’ve got guys that can do the work, but I don’t want to bother them with it. I’d rather keep them fresh and relaxed for those times where I need 100% out of them. I’m fine with taking on the intervening stuff myself. But that’s counter to the direction I’m being asked to go.

It’s part of that professional transition that I summarized as “making it.” Now that I’ve got a pretty good idea of how everything here works, I need to step back and let the sysadmins work. My focus needs to be in keeping track of all the work they’ve been tasked with, triaging the severity thereof, and letting them know what should get worked on at what time, and that’s the primary responsibility. The secondary responsibility is being the “Tier 4” they can escalate to, being able to pinch-hit for them on their days off, and generally keep the peace. Somewhere in-between is planning and architecting new solutions and project management.

Similar to what I was saying this morning about there being no improvement without challenge, I’m not really doing my admins any favors here by taking work off their plates, not in the long run. It has the potential to be rather career-threatening if they go years without picking up anything new or being exposed to routine problems to solve.

What’s irritating about this is that it sounds for all the world that I’m trying to get out of doing work that I could be doing myself. Like someone rationalizing some awful thing as “for the best, honestly.” The pragmatic view of it is, that’s not what they hired me for. They weren’t looking for another sysadmin. They want an IT manager. Am I delivering on that? Perhaps I am the right person for the job, but am I performing the right duties?

I’m going to have to improve at that.

Regularly Scheduled Interruptions

It hasn’t been a great week. I ended up running late on Monday, missing not only the regular train but the late train. I was having a lot of abdominal pain Monday night and yesterday morning so I called in sick yesterday. It got a bit better throughout the day but worsened at night. So I woke up this morning feeling ill again, and missed the train. I’m on the late train. Saying I still don’t feel great is quite an understatement, but I’ve gotta go. I really need a few months of good health here, it’s a real pain to be right on the cusp of no sick leave all the time.

Since I was home yesterday, and I just got my 27″ monitor in the day prior, I spent most of the day gaming on it, running through a bunch of games. I ended up spending quite a bit of time on Rocket League and the new Hoops mode. It’s always fun to get in on the ground floor of a competitive game, when everyone’s on about the same footing as far as experience. The 2v2 setup is ideal for such a small court, and it leads to some very intense matches. Two of the first three games went to overtime, the first one being sent to OT with a bank from three-quarters court with no time left on the clock.

I also decided to try some ranked 1v1 play. When you’re playing an evenly matched opponent, 1v1 is a blast. For reference, I’ve been playing Rocket League a bit longer than most. I picked up the predecessor game, Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars on release day in 2008, and I’ve got about a thousand hours logged on it. Rocket League plays pretty much identically in every manner. The thing is, the crowd that played multiplayer SSARPBC were incredibly skilled. Most of the game happens in the air. At the top tier of Rocket League the same is true. But if you didn’t have a top-class aerial game, you weren’t playing multiplayer SSARPBC. Play single-player against bots, or perhaps try a new game. I chose to play single-player.

So as you transition to ranked play, it first has you play 10 unranked matches to determine your skill level. These are generally against players in the bottom 3 tiers (of 15 possible tiers). Bear in mind, I haven’t played 1v1 at all in probably two years. My first few games were wins by scores of 8-3, 9-1, 8-7, and 6-1. I ended up going 3-3 in the remaining six games which was sad but 7-3 over ten games was a good enough performance to place me in the Prospect 3 tier, which let me skip the bottom two tiers entirely. I was hoping to skip this one as well and go straight to Prospect Elite. I think the loss in the last game is what prevented that.

There aren’t many games where I feel like I have the potential to be one of the better players in the world. I certainly never feel that way with any shooters. It’s never going to happen with chess or go, not Scrabble nor Boggle. As a pre-teen and teenager, I thought it might happen with soccer. That ended up having more to do with the quality of opponents than my skill. I feel like it could be the case with Rocket League. The biggest factor in improving at something is to constantly be challenged, having peers at your skill level to analyze your work and offer feedback and a test. If you’re sandbagging your way through a game, it reinforces bad and sloppy habits. And there’s always temptation when you’re sandbagging to stay there. It’s like Mitch Hedberg said, “I wish I could play little league now, I’d kick some fuckin’ ass.”

I played a fair bit of XCOM: Enemy Unknown over the weekend. This is where that sandbagging and sloppy play comes up. I started a game on Easy mode, and played far too aggressive and loose. My squad was scattered all over the map, triggering tons of aliens, but they didn’t hit hard enough to make me change my playstyle. Until the first terror mission, that is. Full squad wipe. Rage quit. Like it’s the game’s fault that I played like an idiot. I started up a new game, and played it proper. Moving as a group, not dashing unless it’s a must, using overwatch. I’ve incurred one loss, a support that could’ve been saved if someone else in the squad knew how to work a fucking medkit. I’m all the way through the alien base assault and the first abductor landing. I have high hopes.

I really have no idea how today’s going to go. I still feel quite ill. There’s a lot to do. At some point I’m going to be asked to think. I would much prefer to be back in bed, honestly. I feel on the edge of throwing up. I think I should cut out the coffee for a few days, I think the acid is making things worse.

I’m only now questioning why Santa Fe is as expensive as it is to own a house. Speaking objectively, there’s not much to do here. No nightlife to speak of, not so much as a bowling alley to be found, no beer scene outside of Santa Fe brewing. More than half the homes don’t even have air conditioning. Traffic is a huge pain in the ass at rush hour. Why can’t you find a house for under $200k worth living in? That’s some crap. Is it strictly because it’s a state capitol? There was a listing for a house for $165,000. The first sentence in the listing? “Some say the house can be saved.” And I want to meet the person that said that, because they’re crazy. You couldn’t open all the doors at the same time or the fucking house would collapse.

Maybe the answer really is “Because have fun driving an hour from Albuquerque every day.”

Ready Up

I really couldn’t ask for a better Friday. No alerts in the morning, couple emails to plan stuff for next week, got my evaluation from the boss, got my one-on-one meetings with my direct reports done, and nothing broke or caught fire in that timespan. It left me from 1:00 to 5:00 to plan and do a thorough weekly review.

It’s a really good feeling knowing that you have tracked everything going on at work, and know exactly where everything is at. That you don’t have to think about those things just for the sake of remembering them. You can actually relax.

So, the evaluation. I indicated it would have a lot of influence on how I felt going into the weekend and in general. I’ll just read off the relevant line out of the eight paragraph evaluation:

Daniel is a very skilled technical supervisor. The right person for the job.

The right person for the job. Validation. It’s a wonderful world.

I was initially joking about bringing decaf coffee with me on the train on the way back instead of gross lightly coffee-flavored cold water. I had a decaf pod in a variety pack. Guess what I’ve got today? It would be better if it wasn’t quite so warm out. But it was still a good idea, I stand by it.

All the Nutanix migrations so far have either been flawless or invaluable learning experiences on non-production boxes. My systems guy has done about a dozen machines, and we have about two dozen to go. If we can get about another dozen done in four days next week there’s a half-day off on Friday there for the taking. There actually is a train that leaves at about the right time, 1:07. I think we want this.

I ordered some replacement Gunnar glasses. My go-to model was discontinued, but a pair appeared on Amazon for about half price. I also bought a Google Cardboard kit. For 10 bucks, I’m quite curious how it actually works. They’re not terribly adjustable and this is a fairly exact science. But for an approximation of technology that’s currently going for $600-1000, it’s worth a shot. It would be funny as hell if it actually worked well enough to not need to bother with the Oculus Rift, Gear VR, HTC Vive, etc.

I’m gonna play the hell out of some vidya this weekend. Damn shame the new monitor won’t arrive until Monday. I know the new Hoops mode for Rocket League is next week, and I’ll be playing the shit out of that when the time comes. I think it’s going to be Dark Souls this weekend. I only have the first one and started with a rather cheesy minmax (Drake sword). I’ve heard from a number of people that it really does detract from the balance of the game, so no Drake sword this time. It’s a full-on franchise at this point, and my policy on franchises is that I have to play through the first before playing any of the rest. I know in this case there isn’t a ton of plot I’m messing with, but that’s the plan just the same.

So, you know. Praise the Sun. \[T]/

I perform better while drinking out of a coconut.

Closing out the week is less arduous than it felt last time around. I feel more fresh than last week, despite (or, because of?) more booze being drank this week than last. I did get a full 8 hours of sleep last night, and I’ve gotta say, I’m at a point in my life where I really appreciate sleep. It’s the best.

Today I get my first evaluation from my boss. The timing is pretty good, Nutanix is ready for production as of yesterday and that’s one of my deliverables for the year. There is one more interim evaluation some time in July or August and then the final evaluation in November. I feel like this could put me in a great mood for the weekend, if nothing else. I want to be told I’m on the right track so far. I think that might just happen.

I finished reading Time Management for System Administrators yesterday on the train, hence the no new articles. All in all, I’m not terribly impressed. I thought it was going to be a GTD clone, but it doesn’t do any of the things GTD does as effectively. It boils down to “capture everything, and make a new schedule every day with all the stuff you have to do, then prioritize each item and estimate how long it will take.” The problem with the second half of that is that it doesn’t solve the problem the book set out to do. Limoncelli mentions “The list of doom,” which is a book where you write your tasks in and cross them out when they’re done, and eventually you end up with open issues scattered throughout the book. So instead, you’re to build the list up every day, rewriting the same junk every morning until it’s completed. Also, he wants you to set a finite amount of time aside for “distractions” and tickets. If I knew that yesterday’s distraction would keep me busy from 10 to 3, I’d have planned my day differently. He also suggests writing scripts and programs to automate things. I don’t think the target market really needed to be told about the potential for automation in their job.

I can’t recommend the book.

In honor of it being both Earth Day and Read-Only Friday…

Diana and I are trying out the Wunderlist app, there’s always an awkward wait at the end of the day when she’s asking if I need anything from the store and I’m busy trying to get on the train and might miss the message entirely. With a shared list, there shouldn’t be any need for such a wait.

We’re supposed to get to pilot Google Apps very soon for possible deployment to the agency. I’m pretty excited about that, between the collaborative editing tools, hangouts, and an IM platform we can standardize on, it’s got a lot to recommend for it. It would be awfully nice if we could leverage some of that stuff. I don’t really want to set up an IRC daemon on the network. Well, I do, but I don’t want to have it be the option for people outside of the IT department.

Here’s to a quality Read-Only Friday, everyone. Get some documentation in, testlab some new ideas, and try not to make too much work for yourself.

The 28 Year Old Rookie

Twice the last two weeks I’ve made the big rookie mistake of train-riding. I’m currently seated on the wrong side of the train, so I either get a delightful glare from the monitor or a face full of sun. By the time I realized (about five seconds) all the correct seats were already gone.

I ended up getting a reasonable amount accomplished today. Nutanix is one staged patch away from being ready, and we have a migration plan ready for tomorrow morning. I’m working on some of those carrots that are viable now, like a new backup target for some hosted web servers. Joining a Linux machine to an AD domain is easier than ever in CentOS 7, and I left off at a good point. Tomorrow I’ll have logons restricted to a security group and sudo restricted to a different one.

I spent my lunch break remoted home, organizing my storage, moving files around to more logical locations, cleaning up names with Filebot, and generally setting this new array up for success. I also downloaded some 250 games between Steam and Origin, and boy am I happy we’re not doing data caps on residential internet yet because that was about a terabyte of data right there.

I’m going to be really happy to have the system back in a usable state. This has been quite the homework project but it was a lot of fun, too. I’m happy I’m going to be able to game again tonight. I’ve got an odd juxtaposition of game styles I want to play. I want to keep playing FIFA 15, I’ve really been enjoying it. But I also want to play something very difficult like an XCOM or Dark Souls. The thing is, they are difficult through entirely different mechanisms. XCOM uses a lot of uncertainty in dice rolls and random enemy placement; the former keeps metagaming low and the latter keeps the game feeling fresh. It can be called out as “artificial difficulty,” but it’s also more adjustable. Dark Souls is “tough, but fair.” When you die in Dark Souls, it’s your own fault 95% of the time. You mistimed an attack, you overextended yourself, you failed to plan. I find myself less rage-prone with Dark Souls than XCOM. If XCOM doesn’t make you mutter “fucking bullshit” at least once or twice a session, it’s not living up to its ancestry. Most deaths in Dark Souls are learning experiences.

In the middle of those difficulty extremes is FTL. There is a little luck involved in terms of drops, missions, hit chance, and so on. But it’s also a game made much easier with a great plan. Honestly the Borderlands franchise can end up here too. There’s luck involved in most of the drops and critical chance, but understanding how to play your character, when to be defensive and when to blitz the enemy, is critical to advancing in True & Ultimate Vault Hunter Modes.

Maybe I’m wanting to play Rogue Legacy, or the new addition to my Steam library, Nuclear Throne. I think I’m just excited to be able to game again and everything sounds good.

I don’t understand why or how you still get the taste of coffee in a thermos after washing the shit out of it like five times, but it’s crap. I want water to taste like water. Maybe I’ll switch to decaf on the way home. If you can’t solve the problems, change the parameters, you know?

It’s like 802.1p for your innards.

So I have titles again now, I ran through my countdown (or countup, I suppose) of ten days. No nicotine and I’m over that mental hurdle now of ten days. Truth be told, everything after that jittery first day was easy. I threw away all my remaining gear over the weekend. At this point I’m ready to enter that “I used to” phase of my life and be more selective, if only a little, about what’s coming into my body.

The hard drive saga appears to be laid to rest. The final topology is 4x5TB drives in a RAID 10, with the 128GB SSD still to be swapped out for a larger model. Those replace 2x3TB in a RAID 1 and 2x1TB in a RAID 0. So my usable space has doubled, but it’s all resilient storage. I took one of the 3TB drives and put it in one of the enclosures that the 5TB drives came in, and connected it to the PC over USB 3.0. With write caching enabled, it’s fast enough to be the data store for Steam, even NBA 2K16 didn’t see a change in load times and it’s probably the biggest game I have in terms of shit to load. I took the 1TB drives and fed them to the PowerEdge server, to bring me up to 8x1TB drives which I’m reconfiguring to an 8-drive RAID 10. That leaves one 3TB drive that I’m unsure what to do with. All my Steam and Origin games fit fine on one 3TB drive. And these drives have a 94% failure rate? Nothing important’s going on it, anyway. I’ll think it over.

We also bought a Keurig and a water filter/dispenser deal over the weekend. I didn’t grasp how much I disliked our tap water until we got the filter. The water is incredibly hard, what with it being the desert, and there’s a ton of sediment. We bought the filter thinking that if it didn’t do anything we’re only out 30 bucks. It’s exceeded expectations.

This all goes to a larger quality-of-life improvement that’s going on. I’m not doing the 25-cent ramen any more, I’m making and bringing lunch instead, fresh sandwiches and fruits and vegetables. The Keurig means I can bring coffee on the train, which is exactly what I’m doing now. So better food, better water, no nicotine. It feels like a natural evolution in my life. Money is a “can’t take it with you” sort of thing, and I have some immediate health concerns that should be greatly helped by making these changes.

For example, since cutting out the nicotine the one thing I noticed is that I’ve been hungrier than I’ve been in years, maybe since I was a teen. Whether that’s because the nicotine was suppressing my appetite or lowering my metabolism, or both, I don’t know. But it wasn’t doing enough to stop me from gaining weight (go figure, you have to attempt some semblance of work), so to hell with it. But I’ve had a lot of GI issues recently. I became lactose intolerant, and I was diagnosed with IBS which is a hell of a thing, as I’ve touched on before. If I simplify some of the equation on what’s going into me, it’s only going to help. I think it’s going to do a lot. It’s small sample sizes at play, but I’ve only needed to take an anti-spasmodic once in the last ten days, where prior to that it was every other day or so.

Nutanix is coming along nicely, it’s been the carrot on the stick for quite a while for quite a few people, so it’s on us to get it to a usable state quickly. Today being Wednesday we may actually get to make some uninterrupted progress. Yesterday was three-fourths meetings. Today is zero meetings. I have high hopes.

What I tend to have to do on days like this where my boss is out of town, and I have all day with nothing scheduled, to keep myself from goofing off, I’ve got a Chrome extension that will block sites that I specify. While I have total control over whether or not that runs, it’s sufficient because more often than not, checking /r/sysadmin is almost muscle memory.

Wednesdays are for action.

232/240

Over the weekend, I found out that the 3TB drives I’d been using in a RAID 1 at home have had a 94% failure rate from Backblaze. So, you know, good job to myself for finding the news a year after it was released. I ended up buying 4x5TB Seagate drives at they represented the lowest cost per usable GB out of the field. I wanted to use a Storage Space, but mixing SATA and USB 3.0 in a Storage Space led to some abysmal write speeds. So I broke my 3TB mirror, put one of them where my optical drive normally is, and moved all 4 5TB drives into the case, in a RAID 10. That takes me from 5TB usable (2x1TB RAID 0, 2x3TB RAID 1) to 10TB usable, so it’s going to be nearly halfway full out the gate. Here’s hoping there are some higher densities on the horizon before I fill up the other half.

Copying 5TB of files blows. But it’s gotta get done, and it was a good opportunity to reorganize anyway.

146/240

The one day since I started this job that I don’t bring a jacket and it rains. Heh.

Lots of planning on this Read-Only Friday left me with no time for a weekly review. Gotta take care of that now so it doesn’t pile up.