Bunny!

Excuse me, but there's a hare in my drink.

Excuse me, but there’s a hare in my drink.

 

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My thoughts on the “3:00 AM Deployment”

And I am only talking here about those deployments which unfortunately cannot be done seamlessly while the application is running and without even users noticing anything ( except maybe new/improved features ).

My opinion: DON’T ever have a late-night, 3:00 AM or otherwise, deployment.

DO have an early-morning deployment, meaning 6-7 AM, 5 AM or why not 3:00 if really necessary.

It’s the best to come in at work earlier to do such things. People will still be in the office if something comes up not sleeping because they stayed awake in preparation for deployment.

I’ve done my fair share of night-deployments and usually if something went wrong customers started complaining in the morning after starting to use the app and when I was either asleep or just woken up and forgotten what I did some hours ago since I dreamt of fluffy clouds.

 

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The Twitter Conversation

I’m usually expecting to see conversations or fragments of conversations on Twitter, but it’s also nice to see that companies have conversations :)

A few minutes ago:

And then after a couple of minutes:

Nice :)

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Archiving: Preservation of Service

If you care about either the past or the future of our digital assets, you should really watch this “ARCHIVE TEAM: A Distributed Preservation of Service Attack” Defcon presentation by Jason Scott.

I am sadly too young to fully appreciate some of the older or more exotic things they archive (like old tapes, floppy disks, others) but I can see their work and the whole community building around it are invaluable.

One of the current day dangers to web present, past and future in my opinion are URL Shorteners.

They fragment the web, they make things harder to read/parse, they are just plain ticking time-bombs for a lot of use-cases (although I agree some advantages exist).

So watching the video I found out about the subcommittee URLTE.AM dealing specifically with URL Shorteners.

With a motto like “url shortening was a fucking awful idea” I can’t help but feel close to them and fully agree with their motivation.

I’m downloading the torrent with the May 31st backup. It’s a whooping 39.2 GB! (COMPRESSED!). I can’t wait to jump into it when I have a little time.

Which brings us to another great reason for having these kinds of archives and having them publicly available: They’re great data sets for a lot of research opportunities.

Old, stupid, broken pieces of pottery from thousands of years ago are put on display in museums. Some historians/scientists fight over who can study some old bones …

… but old websites or other digital media from 10 years ago is thrown away in the garbage by most people or silently disappears without warning from the web. This is really sad…

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Worst “reason” to switch to Linux

I love Linux. I don’t use it anymore as a desktop OS but all the servers I use at work and for personal projects are Linux and I use it daily. I did have it as a desktop OS for quite some time a few years ago and of course it worked and I knew how to use it well both at work and at home.

But that doesn’t mean Linux is the solution to all problems and it certainly has quite a few differences from Windows which let’s say most people use.

So I get a request some days ago sounding like:

Someone: I’ve got a colleague at work who wants to switch to Linux on his work computer, but he needs helps with some kind of programs, could you help?

Me: Sure. But first…why does he want to switch to Linux? Has he ever used it before?

Someone: No, never used it. He had problems with viruses and such on Windows and knows that there aren’t any for Linux and it’s much more secure.

Me: F*CKING IDIOT! He should keep his Windows and install an anti-virus and get some common sense.

Fact: Linux can be more secure and maybe even better at some tasks.

Fiction: Linux is the solution to all problems and it’s easy to switch to Linux for your actual work computer.

You can be perfectly secure using Windows, having even a free anti-virus installed and just using some small amount of common-sense when downloading and running certain software. It’s really not rocket-surgery. Just a dash of common-sense with a few sprinkles of paranoia to be really safe.

People who say “Linux has no viruses” obviously don’t know how many (successful) attacks there are on badly configured servers. And if you run Linux and have no idea what you’re doing you can install a lot of services which open you up to exploitation without even knowing it.

But skipping these arguments there the real argument is:

At work you need to do your job!

If you’ve never used Linux before and don’t even know if the applications you use now daily have a Linux version or if there is some other Linux application which meets your needs then you’re going to be in trouble.

You might not find the right software. You might have weird issues with Printing for example (I did at various points).

Any new OS and/or piece of Software requires some time to learn and understand. And when you have a job to do you might not have that time. A colleague will come over asking you to print an invoice and expect you to have it done in 10 minutes because that’s how long it usually takes you. But suddenly after 2 hours you’re still working on it because your switched to Linux. That’s not acceptable for you or the company. And it’s really silly too.

I really like standing out but if most of the people in the company use a certain OS there already is a lot of experience, knowledge and people who can help you resolve any issues. If you want to stand out by being different…that’s ok…but you’re on your own most of the times.

Start Small, Switch Gradually

Linux is free, Linux is cool, it’s easy (well..much easier than before) to try out. So just go ahead and install it at home or another computer/laptop. Start gradually by using it for browsing the web and listening to music. Use the software available and see how it compares to Windows software you use every day. Keep trying out and comparing your software needs until you know enough to make an informed decision.

Keep getting to know it better and after you have some experience if you still think it’s a good idea start using it at work. This also means you’ll be able to advise other co-workers who might be interested in Linux if it really is a good fit for them. You won’t be the odd-one-out but rather the guy who knows and can advise on Linux issues for various things.

Punchline

Words of wisdom from our sysadmin at work during a conversation with a colleague (software developer):

Colleague: I want to switch to Linux, can you install it on my work computer for me?

SysAdmin: Sure! But don’t come to me with any problems you have with any software. And if it slows down your work it’s your fault.

 

* Footnote: The same reasoning applies even if you’re switch from Linux to Windows. Or Windows to Mac, or Mac to Linux…or whatever…you get the point.

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Tech Support Intervention – Shibboleet

Be sure to read the actual post after the comic :) 

Man….I so wish that were true…

My parents’ internet connection didn’t work and I was called in for an “Intervention”.

Basically they were taken through the whole stop the computer, start the computer, check Control Panel, etc. process.

So they called me over. Waited 5-10 minutes to get an actual person on the line, specified name and address etc and then handed the phone over to me:

Me: Hello, this is Cristian

TechSupport: Hello, can you tell me what error appears when you try to connect to…

Me: (cutting him off in mid-sentence) Let’s skip the formalities. Tries on two different computers/network cards and cable coming into the home has no Link. Please check your managed switches for any configuration issues or get over here and plug it back it.

TechSupport: Ok. We’ll investigate and call you back when we know more about the issue.

So that was all I think 40-ish seconds.

I didn’t try saying “Shibboleet” but I doubt that would have worked. And even though I may not have been too friendly I gave him clear information (no link), showed him I put in some effort into resolving the issue (tried different computers/NICs), and saved both me and the tech support guy a lot of time.

Don’t be afraid to assert yourself, things can go much quicker!

* On the other hand I understand tech support is stressed out sometimes. When a customer opens an issue for an application I work(ed) on and just says “It doesn’t work” I feel like killing somebody. Give me more information, show me you gave it some thought and/or effort like trying different pages or buttons. Give me a screenshot or the exact error text if one was visible in the application.

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How NOT to promote your company on Twitter

XX (@Y) is now following you on Twitter!

(I will disregard the fact that it’s a stupid attempt of “let’s follow a ton of people, some will follow back, we have people watching/reading what we say” )

So of course you may click to see the twitter profile and see if it’s worth following back.

It’s a company let’s say… 2000-ish followers, following 1500 people. There’s also link to a Facebook page with like 9.5 thousand Likes.

And a fucking big grey lock image and a text telling you “@Y’s Tweets are protected.”.

What the hell? Don’t you want people to see what you write?

Just take the “marketing” team out back and shoot them.

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To My Dear Customers: Continue Testing!

Continue Testing! Or…

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Email etiquette

Wikipedia defines an email Subject as:

Subject: A brief summary of the topic of the message. Certain abbreviations are commonly used in the subject, including “RE:” and “FW:”.

Pretty straightforward, right?

Still this seems to be hard to grasp even for some of the more-educated people I talk with using email.

What usually happens: I send an email maybe including someone in CC on a specific subject A. Then either the actual recipient or a person in CC remembers that they want to talk to me about some completely unrelated subject B. So they hit reply and a nice “RE: A” appears talking about B and of course preserving all the previous talks about A from my original message.

I have only one thing to say: If you do this, don’t be surprised if I don’t reply to your email. I usually need to walk away from my computer every time I see this since it’s one of those little things which makes me an angry man-eating panda..

Is it really so hard to change a subject line? Please try.

Funny thing is…there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for not replying to emails like that: “Oh…I knew I solved that issue/thing so I just archived all emails with that subject, sorry!” :)

Thread Hijacking is punishable by ignore.

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The Adventures of Alice and Bob

If you’ve read anything related to cryptography, chances are you’ve heard some of the stories with Alice and Bob

They’re probably some of the most known characters in general in the computer field and I always love hearing Alice and Bob stories.

And now on RSA Conference‘s youtube channel I also found videos of them, oh joy.. Enjoy:

You can find a lot more great videos on the youtube channel, including lots of shorts with the creators of today’s cryptography, so go ahead.

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