1001 + 2 Insomniac Nights

Still more stories from the trenches

Previous insomniac nights:

Bleeding Heart (cont)

After a little while, I realized that x.y.z is not a floating point value. Oops.

I found the Gem::Version Ruby class, which allows you to use Gem::Version.new('1.2.3') <=> Gem::Version.new('2.3.4') comparisons.


Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman Who Has Been Woken Up Countless Times Because of Someone Else’s Shitty Code


Baremetal Alchemist

I was never a full-time data center technician, but I used to spend a lot of time in them when they tended to be on-premises more often.

For example, I can tell you that the rack-mount kits for pre-HP Compaq servers were made from razor blades and you could not get them aligned to slide them in without a blood offering.

Then there was the time we were basically moving half the servers in the data center around to accommodate some corporate plan. They paired me with a full-time data center technician to pre-wire the new cabinets with the network, power, and KVM (keyboard-video-mouse) switches. He was literally a foot taller than I was, so I would wire the bottom half of the cabinets and he would prep the top half. At some point I asked him where the box of KVM switches had gone. “I put them at eye level.” I demonstrate with my hands the difference in eye level. “Oh, I put them on top of that 6’6″ tall cabinet.”


WoW

Anyone who’s basically had a job in the last 10-15 has had to deal with at least one of those co-workers. You know them. The ones who are obsessed with World of Warcraft.

I had one of those on one team. “Dan” (his real name) often played with one of the data center technicians, who, since they had to sit in the data center at all hours, sometimes installed unauthorized software on their desktops.

One day Dan comes into work kind of hot under the collar. “Do you know what — did? I was home last night playing WoW and he pops into my game chat and pastes an HP-UX error message! That game is supposed to be my escape from this shit!”

Data center guy: “I have to know where to find my engineers when I need to get a hold of them.”

When I left the company, Dan gave me a WoW free trial CD-ROM as a parting gift.


Fire and Ice Alarms

When I worked for a record company, the systems engineering team was split between LA and NYC, as were the servers. The server distribution did not constitute any form of business redundancy or disaster recovery; the servers’ locations depended mainly on business need and which merger or acquisition they came with.

One bright winter’s day in Los Angeles, I came into the office and was told the NYC servers were offline. “Uh, what happened?” It turns out that the skyscraper in Manhattan…

to be continued…

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