Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dear collegue - DRAFT

When I first learned that my approval was delayed because I neglected to specify that what was going into the cabinet was ‘servers, storage, and network gear’, I was surprised. That’s pretty much what goes into every cabinet in the data center and seemed obvious to the point of being silly. I thought that it was petty and you were trying to prove a point about who was in control and that I should know my place – boy was I wrong.

I have since learned why that question is on the list, because I had a face-to-face discussion with the customer about what they are ACTUALLY going to put in their cabinets. The inventory is as follows:

An Easy-Bake Oven™ which will constantly be churning out cookie versions of the Linux and FreeBSD mascots.

A miniature horse that can recite verbatim Shakespeare’s Richard the 3rd- except for the line “A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!” for which it substitutes stomping its hoof four times.

At the bottom of the cabinet they will need D/C power to feed a 4U device that acts as a portal to Narnia.

The ‘storage’ part is technically correct, but somehow, a scientist has managed to harvest and store actual thinking power (“short term IQ points” is how they describe it.) Since the center is in Philadelphia, they plan on traveling to the machine, taking a ‘boost’ and then go to the nearest park where they will play speed chess and scream “Look at me! I’m Bobby Fischer!”

Legendary B-Movie actor Bruce Campbell is going in and will need keys to unlock the cabinet Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2 PM to sign autographs and act cool.

They will have an Intrusion Detection Server that, when discovering an attack, will fire a volley from a bank of unicorn horns that will search out the perpetrator and poke him continuously until he powers off his computer, reports himself to the authorities and promises not to do it ever again.

On loan from the National Museum of History are: the ruby red slippers from the Wizard of Oz, the original Kermit the Frog puppet, a The Man From U.N.C.L.E. lunchbox, and the white gloves worn by Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – which will need special cooling, hence the door with the fan on the back of the cabinet.

Their main web cluster is utilizing bleeding edge technology using low level design based on biological organisms. This was new to me, but essentially an arachnid is responsible for the true/false determination of each bit by contact to the board with its leg. Eight arachnids make a 64 bit processing motherboard. I asked how on earth they could represent zero and he reminded me that during POST (Planting Of Stationary Thread) the have a method to simply raise themselves up by the thread anchored to the case. It takes up ¼ of one of the cabinets, but it’s so efficiently tuned for their text heavy web traffic that it makes sense for them (CHAR. LOTS WEB Servers)

Somehow they captured a fire salamander who maintains his form of fire while speaking Layer 3 protocols. It handles all their IP access list, VPN termination configs, VLANs, etc. and has several 10 Gig-E connections – so it’s a much better fit than an ASA5520. However, they are worried about it eating their web servers.

Legend has it that that there have been a series of numbers passed down through the centuries as a warning of a great and malevolent being. Some say it represents a day and time, others say that it can be translated into GPS coordinates. One group that has been gaining attention is a small team of researchers in Istanbul that claim it’s an address, floor number and space ID of the cabinet where it all begins. Their most controversial work is based on the palimpsest of Archimedes which claims in extraordinary detail that the foretold “rising and laying waste of the cities of man” could be avoided by an Excel spreadsheet with the question “Are you going to place anything inside your cabinet which may spiral out of control and destroy humanity as we know it?” with a pull-down response of Yes/No. (I sent the customer the sheet and they selected No, so I think we are all good on that front. I know Nostradamus said that it has to be in WKS format, but I think that guy is a scam artist to begin with and who uses MS Works nowadays anyways, right?!)

In any case, I’ve learned my lesson. No more questioning the usefulness of any forms I may be asked to complete – even if they fly in the face of reason and efficiency. It may save the world someday!

Bowing and retreatingly yours,

Matt A.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Odd start to a work trip

This just happened on 6/20/2011.

I arrive at SFO at about 8:30 PM for a Midnight flight to the East Coast.  I want to check out the new Terminal 2, but since I leave from Terminal 1 - I start there to find my gate. Wife will tell you, I am obsessed with confirming that I know where I am supposed to be later before I go exploring.

There is noone in line for security. I throw my shoes and belt into the bin, unzip my laptop bag and approach the front. While waiting for the person in front of me, I hear the woman behind me talking to her bag.

I turn and look to see a woman, about 5 years younger than me, a little taller and a little heavier than me. She has the nervousness of a non-traveller - searching the same pockets over and over for metal that might set off the detector, straining to hear the same instructions I have hear a thousand times. I look at her bag and see it's an animal carrying case with toys clipped to the side and blankets padding the inside. She smiles at me as says, "It's my pug!". I smile back and say, "Ah, just checking that you aren't talking to a suitcase. We might be on the same flight." She chuckles and I turn around.

I approach the metal detector and get waved over for the "check out my naked body" scan machine. (Don't get me started on the one that is the source of authority that says we need these machines to keep travel safe is the same guy who gets paid by the company who makes them.) I step in, raise my hands, take my dose of radiation and step out. After a few seconds, I get waved through and walk over to the conveyer belt to get my gear.

I notice the conveyor belt isn't moving, look up, and at that exact moment see the woman behind me screaming. TSA agents are scurrying over from various locations as her bawling and freaking out escalates. The person working the conveyor belt goes sprinting past to get a supervisor of some-sort. A co-worker asks what is happening and he says "Her dog died!"

I can make out the words now, she is saying "I thought she was asleep! I thought she was asleep!" over and over. Everyone is frozen is this hurricane of emotion until a supervisor shows up and takes the pet case away. TSA Agents start to meander away from the area, other travelers are moving through the other side - and my luggage is still stuck on the conveyor belt.

I want to get out of there, but am petrified that she will hear me saying, essentially, "Man, that is horrible .. but can I get my stuff?". It's not like I am going to miss a flight, and I wonder what the protocol is for a situation like this.

I wait there for about 5 minutes until her tears die down. Someone brings her a box of tissues. I quietly ask an Agent, "Can we start the conveyor belt again? My suitcase..." He makes a sound of surprise, starts the belt and 45 seconds later I am gone.

I've decided to skip Terminal 2 and go straight to a "grill" that has about 6 menu items. However, they have 4 beers on tap and I need one about now.