Someone Else's Code 
Saturday, 9 January, 2010, 23:30
Posted by Administrator
Real life coding is nothing like school coding. While the actual process of coding is the same (there really aren't too many different ways to type), the interactions are different. In school, you are pretty much forced to code solo. In real life, you need to work with others or face epic failure.

In real life, we generally don't deal with code that is completely our own. Often, the code is not particularly well documented; this is where education kicks in. Common sense is also required, as uncommented code cannot remain that way.

Now, with that said, it's still fun to do. Can be a little frustrating if the creator of the code did things in a not-so-straightforward manner, but still fun and quite satisfying when it works.

Why am I posting about coding? There's going to be a bit of it this year. Maybe not on this site, because color scheme changes don't need code updates, but for other sites I've been working on. I really want to nail down a new design for Images on Ice, for example.

Anyway, I'm rambling now.
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Christmas has Passed 
Saturday, 26 December, 2009, 14:46
Posted by Administrator
Indeed, Merry Christmas to everyone!

To me, it didn't feel like Christmas this year (just like it didn't feel like Thanksgiving a month ago). My family has always celebrated Christmas on the 24th and there were lots of people (including Julie, due to work) missing from that celebration. It felt like the holiday snuck up on us this year. We were also kind of rushed yesterday because Julie works today and tomorrow, so we had to get home at a decent time so she could wake up early enough to get to work. Snowplows haven't been out yet, and it's 8:45.

With all that said ... I really didn't tell anyone I wanted anything this year. No hint dropping, no lists ... really the only thing I wanted was a set of four 2TB hard disks, but that wasn't necessarily for Christmas ;) I did get New Super Mario Bros. Wii, a Nerf N-Strike Rapid Fire AS-20, some cash, and assorted gift cards. I gave Julie a SingStand iPod karaoke mic, some shiba inu gear (T-shirts and such), and comfy pajamas.

2010 is less than a week away now. On the one hand I'm wondering where 2009 went ... but on the other I'm glad it's over because it was a stressful year. Granted, there are others among my friends and family who have had more stressful years, but I'm sure they're also happy to see 2009 go. In less than a week there will be a clean slate ... still doesn't feel like it, though.
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Transformation of a computer into something less 
Wednesday, 9 December, 2009, 02:34
Posted by Administrator
The idea and practice of virtualization has been around for a long time. I've been messing with it since 2006, when Microsoft made Virtual PC 2004 free. I didn't touch hardware-assisted virtualization until Virtual PC 2007 came out, but pushed further with Xen, VirtualBox, and Hyper-V recently. The concept of virtualization is certainly not foreign to me, nor are the concepts of its execution (including some silly stuff like virtualizing database servers).

However, until today I had no experience in virtualizing a machine. By that I mean I have never converted a physical computer into a virtual machine. Sure, I've set up a virtual machine with a configuration identical to that of a physical one, and I've migrated the roles and applications over with the purpose of decommissioning the old hardware. Today, though, I took a machine that was up and running and essentially moved it from its physical hardware to a file on a disk.

Think about that for a second. Here I had a pretty low-end server (Pentium 4 3.0GHz w/HyperThreading, 1GB RAM, two 80GB IDE hard disks in software RAID 1 with 72GB used, Windows Server 2003 Standard, SQL Server 2005 Developer, SVN, IIS, blah blah blah) and, after just under an hour, the physical computer could be turned off with no loss in data or services. As an added bonus, because the host's processors and hard disks are ridiculously quick (dual Xeon E5540s and a RAID 60 composed of thirty 146GB 15,000RPM SAS disks), the virtual machine is actually faster than the old physical one.

So ... here's a machine that stood on the floor of a server room, taking up roughly 2.85 cubic feet of space (18.5 in x 10.25 in x 26 in, specifically). Now that this conversion is complete, that floor space is free. The machine now exists as a single 80GB file on a disk array in a server rack. It no longer consumes any physical space. The machine's power supply is no longer drawing current; instead, the current draw of the host machine rises a little bit. The fans are no longer dumping heat into the server room; instead, the heat output of the host machine and its disk arrays increases ever so slightly. Hardware that moves and stores bits has become just that -- bits. So freaking cool.

Now, I know I did pretty much nothing in this process apart from loading and configuring the operating system on the new host machine, installing the software that made this P2V conversion possible, and entering the usernames and passwords required to perform this task. But, in the end, it's damn cool, and I can say I've done this now. There's another, identical (hardwarewise) old server sitting on the floor of the server room right now. That is the next one on the P2V list. After that ... there are 4 more old servers remaining. One will be replaced by a virtual machine (rather than P2Vd itself), one will be replaced by new hardware, one will simply be shut down, and one needs to stay as-is until a certain specific plan is completed.
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Lights Up 
Sunday, 6 December, 2009, 15:09
Posted by Administrator
Well, the Christmas lights are up. I believe the count this year is 840 on the roof and 560 on the bushes, for a total of 1400 "cool white" LED lights. That doesn't count the lights on the tree in the lawn. I was playing some Borderlands last night, looking out the window whenever I saw some movement, and we stopped two cars.

If I really wanted to, I could wrap lights around the roof completely. That's one of the reasons I love the LEDs -- you can connect up to 29 strings of lights end-to-end, as opposed to 7 for the standard bulbs.

In other news, I'm on call this weekend. I am extremely happy that nobody called while I was on the roof -- I could only imagine the thoughts going through a customer's head if I had to tell them "hang on a second, I need to climb off the roof." It would be even worse if I slipped off the ladder and broke something, and then had to tell the customer I couldn't fix their problem on account of injury :) However, after all is said and done, I've had three calls so far: two were wrong numbers, and one was a customer with a genuine problem that I helped solve.

Thinking of putting up the tree today, but Julie is still asleep. I wonder how Daisy will react to the presence of the tree, as this is her first Christmas ... and I wonder if she will react to it differently when the lights are on.
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Turkey Time 
Monday, 23 November, 2009, 20:03
Posted by Administrator
Turkey day approaches rapidly. That means a 3-day work week followed by a four-day weekend of epic gluttony. I'm limiting myself to one day of epic gluttony this year, and will do my best to stay off the roads on Friday and Saturday. Sunday ... I don't think I'll have a choice, because that's when I'm hanging my Christmas lights.

See, I'm a firm believer in the fact that one should not skip holidays. Halloween isn't a real holiday, but there's a lot of "baggage" that goes along with it -- decorations and such. Thanksgiving is more of a holiday than Halloween because we actually get time off work for it, but for some reason American society seems to have forgotten about it. All we care about now is Halloween, Black Friday, and Christmas. This is evidenced by the fact that shops start putting up Christmas decorations before they take Halloween costumes and candy off the shelves.

In the past 4 hours I've heard the phrase "deep fried turkey" mentioned several times. While I'm a huge fan of the traditionally-prepared turkey (i.e. from the oven), this is something I would like to try. I highly doubt I'll be able to do so this year, but I'm hoping I can swing it next year. I'd have to do it in the driveway so I don't torch the house, but it sounds cool.

So ... on the subject of Sunday ... I have over 1000 "cool white" LED bulbs that belong on my house. The only way they will get up there is if I climb up on a ladder and hang them. I would like to try to put lights all the way around the roof this year, instead of only on the front. I think that'll cover it. At this point in my thought process I'm one step short of running out and getting a bunch of those "net" lighting kits that are normally used on bushes, and covering the entire roof in them. Griswold? YES!
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