Thursday, 30 April 2009

I too, am Dilbert!

As Arthur Dent was noted to say:-
"This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays"
On his particular Thursday, his planet gets blown up, On my planet, I'm just suffering from a procedure-driven manager.

I have just spent three days researching and writing a report on something that needs doing on a corporate scale - three days that could have otherwise been more productively used solving the problem itself.

It runs to 9 sides of A4 in 10pt type, I mailed it off to him and got a reply within minutes flinging back in my lap saying "run with it" So what exactly was the point of me writing the report in the first place if he's not going to read it properly and just give me the job straight back???

BTW, three days at my charge-out rate is about 1,200 quid (about $1,700) This isn't a large sum in the corporate scheme of things, but someone still has to pay for that, and knowing him, he'll charge the customer for it!

There's no point in discussing anything with him - he doesn't listen properly. Up until recently we (as in my team) all thought it was just us he did this to. Over the past few days we've been in meetings with some of our colleagues from the Projects side of the company - and worse, some of our older colleagues still working for our main customer - who have said exactly the same thing.

Oh Scott, why, oh why didn't I listen! The pointy haired bosses are taking over!

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Do you want apple sauce with this panic?

Swine 'flu! Get your pandemic and pigs ear!(sic)

I am of the opinion that certain people thrive on this sort situation. I've just hit Google News for the UK, and it's reporting something like 32,000 stories just on this subject. The Daily Telegraph, one of the UK's national broadsheets, along with some others around the globe have introduced RSS feeds just for the Swine 'flu outbreak.

Yes, we should be worried about the spread of it, yes we should take precautions against catching it, but these are so simple and logical, I cannot see why people should panic. If we just stick to the top two simple day-to-day hygiene tips there shouldn't be a problem:
  • Use tissues when you cough or sneeze, or at least cover your nose and mouth with your hand and then clean your hand with a tissue. And don't stick it in your pocket for later - get rid of it in the nearest bin.
  • Basic hygiene - washing your hands with soap and water - will prevent spread of virii in general between your face and hands and therefore other people.
  • Keep your household work surfaces clean, and in these situations how about door handles as well (couldn't hurt at least!)
These are difficult concepts?

My cynical side has the final say. Two things will be certain at this point,
  1. There's going to be a lot of mis-informed people going everso slightly crazy about catching this "dread disease"
  2. There's going to be a lot of manufacturer's and retailers rubbing their hands with glee as the sales of disposable face masks goes beyond the dreams of accountants and the Revenue services of most of the planet!
Be lucky and stay safe out there people.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Almost a prayer meeting

I was riding home on a bus last night when something happened in front of me that just made me smile. It really did give me a good feeling.

When I got on the bus, an elderly African Gent got on with me and sat in front of me. A young woman sat next to him. He began talking to her and although I couldn't hear much of what was being said, there were broad smiles on both faces, especially when the gent produced a copy of "Awake", one of the pamphlets that the Jehovah's Witnesses hand out over here in the UK. The broad smile on the woman's face was something to be hold, and I saw her say the words "Thank you, but I'm Jewish".

She got off a stop or two later and an elderly African woman got on and sat next to him. I saw the copy of Awake re-appear as he began to start the conversation again. However, this time he was presented by this woman with titles I knew where normally published by one of the Baptist churches in the UK.

The interaction between these two people was a joy to behold, even if I couldn't hear everything that was said. When the woman got off just before I did, the smiles on these two people's faces said it all. They may have had slightly differing faiths, but their shared belief was indomitable!

"Fat Taxes" raise their head again!

So, RyanAir are trying to introduce another one of these so-called "taxes". It's really just a surcharge, but hey, why quibble?

From what I hear they are going to try and charge either by the kilo, by the inch or by BMI points.

Now, if they're going to do this, when are they going to start in on other people who are naturally outside the "norm" in terms of shape or size. As someone who has longer than average legs, I get a bit fed up with having to request seats near the exits - these being the only ones where my legs actually fit! Are they going to charge me extra for this? My wife is not a small person, although her waist size is below the quoted 40 inches, her hips aren't. Will this count?

What I'd like to know is if they'd also considering discounts for passengers who are smaller than average - like a certain Mr. Michael O'Leary.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

How green is Silicon Valley?

Well, what do we think?

Being closely involved in the world that encompasses these almighty cathedrals to technology that we call "data centres", I wonder seriously how green we can actually get them. It may be unfair to single out this particular part of the world as there's nowhere that's any less guilty at wasting energy.

The prime problem is how inefficient the actual equipment is at using the power that we put into it. There are very few "conventional" server/network chassis that can boast better than a 20% efficiency rating, and as you've most likely guessed the rest simply comes out of the box as heat.

Thus we have a situation where the problem has to be solved in the long term by the manufacturers. Moves are being made in this direction: more efficient ways of distributing the power to the servers, more use of blade servers, far more intelligent power and performace management software in the servers themselves, and so on.

Meanwhile in the short term, we just have to make the environment that it lives in far more efficient at dealing with the problem the equipment is causing us. Here are some ideas from my addled brain.

How much heat in the data centre is coming from outside the building? In certain climates, I suspect quite a lot at certain times of the year, yet I have visited places where the insulation in the area of the DC's suites has been non-existent. Conversely, how much cooling can we achieve from the outside of the building by just allowing the outside atmosphere to get in? Some method of controlled heat transfer when the outside air is cool enough cannot be beyond the whit of Man.

Can the excess heat be converted back to useable electrical power, or indeed be condensed enough to help in powering the air conditioning systems - a Combined heat/power system maybe.

How do we cool the equipment itself? The current method in an awful lot of DC's - even brand new ones - is to cool the suite itself rather than the equipment itself. This is a hangover from mainframe days when this was really the only viable way of doing it. I come from a broadcast engineering background where it has always been the norm to use contained cooling within an area, so this way has never made sense to me.

This has got to change.

CFO's have got to realise that saving money in the capital stage of a project and just throw air handling units around a large open area is only going to increase the costs to the company when it reaches the stage of going into operation, especially when a large number of governments are introducing carbon taxes in some form or another.

Bite the bullet guys and consider doing this now: there are options out there already, some of which can be easily (and relatively cheaply) retro-fitted to your existing installation.

Finally, an idea for the manufacturers out there: the Dell's HP's Cisco's of this world. Broadcasting, especially national broadcasting uses a fair number of high-power transmitters to reach it's audience. To keep these enormous beasts going they are cooled directly. The coolant pipes are plumbed directly into the output stage and the liquid pumped through these rather than having an intermediate "air stage" in the process.

It's already being done on larger scale computers... think Kray and the like. Is it really so mad an idea to do this to even small machines like say a C7000?

Be lucky and stay safe out there people!

Why blog?

A rhetorical question really.
In my case, it's really just an exercise in trying to put my feelings down in words, and if it provokes comment or discussion so be it.

A lot of the time I suspect this will be some form of reaction to a news item or somethingthat's caused me to think about something that would normally be trivial in my daily life.

There's been many people giving reasons not to blog, some citing that there's no point in subjecting the rest of the world to your own drivel. Drivel or not, being able to have your say is something some people do not have the opportunity to do even in this day-and-age.

So I will re-iterate something that Arthur Wellesley (once the Duke of Wellington) is attributed with... "Publish and be damned!"

The obligatory introduction

Well, Here I am, hair and all!

I've been meaning to start a non-"D" blog for sometime, and here it is.

What is it I refer to as "D"? ........................... Read on.

So what have I got to say.....

I tend to be classed as a bit of "Mr. Angry" sometimes as I can be a bit small-minded, but only about small-minded people (huh?)

I work in the IT industry - one of the "back-room boys", the geeks, the experts (ugh! hate that phrase!) - that look after the telecommunications and security for the IT operation in a fairly large media operation.

I am diabetic - classified as Type 2 (ooh, is that the bad one?) Err, all diabetes is bad, it's just that some is more insidious than others.

Type 1, is what used to be referred to as "juvenile diabetes", but it can happen at any age. If you're over 30 then it's normally called LADA (Latent Auto-immune Diabetes in Adults) or Type 1.5 Whatever the case, it's when the pancreas just stops producing insulin period and is caused by the body's own immune system mistaking the part of the pancreas that produces insulin as invading cells.

Why it does this is still being researched, but from this point on, insulin has to come from external sources.

Type 2 classically is when your pancreas starts having trouble producing insulin anymore due to age - that's me as far as they can tell at the moment.... my symptoms weren't exactly classical.

The definition covers a lot more than this, but a better reference for that would be somewhere like Diabetes Daily, where a fellow contributor, Lloyd, has posted an explanation in layman's terms as to the differences between types of diabetes.

Now the sad bit.

Type 2 is getting to mean anyone whose body can't produce enough insulin to cope with what they're eating. Unfortunately this type of diabetes is becoming more and more common with our slow descent into a sedentary lifestyle. My personal belief is it's not just down to that or the quantities of food involved, but what's actually in the food. I'll not enter into a deep discussion on the whys and wherefores involved with this because there are so many contributory factors, not least profit, that I'll exceed my storage quota on Blogger in a single post.

At this point I think I'd better add this...
WARNING! What ever you do, never say to a diabetic, "But you're not fat enough to be diabetic!" As being diabetic forces you to have a far healthier lifestyle than anyone else, you may find that person has far greater "stopping power" than you have and they will quite happily stop your nose permanently!

It's done!
My first personal blog post!

Be lucky and stay safe out there people!