Sometimes questions come up that you know you should know the answer to but you just don’t. My recent one was “how does df choose the output order?” The man page doesn’t mention the logic behind it and a quick strace shows it pulls its data from /proc/mounts (which you’d expect) and returns the output in the same order. So logically the question becomes how does /proc/mounts order things? It’s not exactly an important question but I can see how this ends - and it involves source code.

The Workshop On Offensive Technologies (WOOT 07) might be the most interesting new conference this year. If it plays its cards right it’ll be a good mix of the more underground groups, infosec professionals and security think tanks. We need more events like this in the UK. Don’t know how nice I’ll have to be to management to try and get a ticket but it’ll probably be worth it.

In one of those serenity^Wserendipitous moments I seem to have an abundance of Science Fiction close to hand. Thanks to Richard I’ve got tickets to see Spider-man 3, Amazon DVD rental have sent me Metropolis, A Scanner Darkly and Triangle. Paul grabbed tickets for the London SciFi weekend showing of Quatermass and I’m now the proud owner of the whole Deep Space Nine run. Sometimes it’s good to be a geek. Read on →

Autonomics refer to the ability of computer systems to be self-managing. – autonomics.ca Here’s one that has been bothering me. Suppose you have a recurring problem that your “autonomic solution” can handle every time it occurs without any one knowing. At what point does the fact there is a treatable issue propagate up to a real person? While an automatic “fix and tell me later” approach helps change your work from fire fighting to planned tasks what classifies a temporary problem as being important enough to warrant you investigating it? Read on →

I’m a sysadmin, half my working life seems to be spent handling other peoples requests (which is why I’m trying to move over to infrastructure work - where I can hopefully concentrate on something for three whole minutes). While chatting with a junior admin at a tech talk in the week the following three tips came up: Use a ticketing system. This one comes up a lot but it’s true, never dropping someones request is well worth the time spent setting it up. Read on →

It’s been a week of databases, replication, provisioning and planning for automation. While winding down (it’s an on-call weekend) I found some links I’d marked for future reading. If you’re interested in database provisioning (especially read only replicated slaves), practical autonomics and how they could potentially be useful in a real environment then these papers make for an interesting ten minutes It doesn’t take a massive leap in imagination to see how a similar approach could be used in to horizontally scale web servers in conjunction with an intelligent monitoring system or load balancer. Read on →

I don’t normally write short posts with a single link but the The Great IPv6 Experiment amused me. In an attempt to crack the chicken and the egg adoption problem they have put up an IPv6 only website full of porn. They say porn pushes technical innovation. We’ll see. Although probably not until the videos are over.

I wanted to like Sunshine, I really did. A new sci-fi film by the writer and directors of 28 Days Later (a very entertaining film) should have been enough to keep me going until Spider-Man 3 is released. Instead it was a seriously dull and predictable two hours. The sun is going out (hip hip hip hurray?) so a small group of scientists are sent to detonate a bomb that’ll kick start it. Read on →

After my little whine I logged in to do my last checks for the evening to discover that one of our webservers had died due to a hard drive going bang, our production environment Nagios box had lost one of its network connections and a chunk of our SAN kit was complaining about power issues. Turns out that most of these were due to a power surge that killed a network switch and three of the racks power strips. Read on →

A Fractal is “a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be subdivided in parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole” – Wikipedia - Fractal Fractally Crap - a system where any piece, when looked at individually, is every bit as broken, badly planned and undocumented as the rest. And yes, I know that if you pile rubbish on rubbish then you get… (strangely enough) rubbish but you can normally find the occasional little gem or ray of sunshine. Read on →