Category Archives: Technology

Birthday Wishes [Mine]

Some people my age want a sports car, but can you really enjoy racing down Mass Ave in a Prius? Besides, I work closely with my municipality’s police and fire departments. Drag racing would make things difficult.

Some people my age, want to do something like climb a mountain. I do not think my cardiologist would approve, and I would like to live long enough to complain about old age.

No, other than a new pair of sneakers for the gym, I want a facsimile of The IBM Model-M keyboard. It’s the sound it makes, safer than roaring up Mass Ave, and less expensive in court cases and speeding fines.

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The Intermediate Milestone

Yesterday New Year’s Even 2013, I was at work. Like many projects, the last 10% seems to be taking 90% of the time. I was hoping to reach a a milestone, whose description would be so boring it would put most people to sleep or drive them out in the street. So let’s use rockets and lunar modules as an analogy, specifically, putting an astronaut into one orbit around Earth with a safe return.

I didn’t reach that sought-after milestone. The milestone I reached was more encouraging than the rocket blowing up on the launch pad, or the rocket launching and ascending a few hundred feet and then crashing. No, my rocket ascended, descended, and no one was injured. Pretty soon, we’ll have the capsule into one orbit and then several, but for now, I’m content with the results.

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Director of Printing and Engraving

Uh, oh! It’s time for another one of those shepherding out one technology for another periods in my life. Eleven years ago, it was automating a radio station. I helped write a scheduler, my first and worst database project, which allowed people to order songs they want played throughout the day. Inevitably it led to fewer jobs.

Now, it is bill printing’s turn. One of my colleagues is retiring, and he’s been printing the tax and utility bills since before I got here. We are eventually going to outsource the bill printing, but it takes time to find the right vendor, not to mention modifying all the billing programs to create the right kind of output required by the vendor. So, it’s my time to see this old technology out the door.

You might be saying to yourself, what’s wrong with that? Have you ever printing 2,000 water, 14,000 real-estate, or several thousand motor vehicle excise bills? And, they have to go through a folder. Well, there goes my software development schedule.

As my boss said this morning, I’m now Director of Printing and Engraving.

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A Short Story Of Flash Memory

This story is not about the fact one of our Linux CentOS 5.x Mailman servers got a root kit virus. And this is not a story about how we are still — almost done — recovering it. No, this is a story about choices in flash memory, USB flash drives, or whatever you call those little “sticks” that get stuck into USB slots. No, this is a story about one brand flash memory working and another not.

First, the system is an older Dell Powerdge server, quite good hardware in its day, with a CD drive and either USB 1.0 or 1.1. I purchased without worrying about brand two PNY 16GB memory sticks.  Our goal was to extract as many Mailman files off the infected system and then run through a virus checker. There was just one problem. The rsync kept failing; the system froze; had to be rebooted; the memory stick reformatted; and then copies done one at a time.

Eventually, we, just as a fallback and thinking it might not work but would not hurt purchased Patriot XPorter XT Boost 16GB flash drives. Over this weekend, the copies did not fail. The system did not freeze up, and technically the old system was still infected, despite our fixing some of it, so it could boot and keep running.

A new version of CentOS is installed along with a new version of Mailman, due to a large part, a better USB flash drive.

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