Let’s cover the basics, if you’ve got two machines working as an identical failover pair then THEY SHOULD BE IDENTICAL. Adding services, hell, adding nearly anything, to only one of them is a mistake. You’ve now created a bias on which one you need running and you can no longer assume they’ll both do the same thing in the same situation. Which defeats the whole point of having them. This might seem obvious, but the number of people who break this simple rule never fail to make that pretty little vein in my neck dance. Read on →

Once a machine has settled in to a rack how long does it take you to turn it in to a working server? How many of these steps are automated? The longer you can go without making manual changes the more comfortable you can be that the machine’s running as it’s supposed to be. What little tweaks do people make once the machine is up? How do you know they’ve been done correctly on each machine? Read on →

When it comes to system administration, the system part can refer to the paperwork, processes and procedures as much as actual machines. Among the modern admins worries are such evil beasties as section 404 of Sarbanes Oxley, the data protection act, log retention for the lovely police state powers of our government and, in some industries, ISO17799, BS15000 and other similar standards. One of the topics I’ve been interested in recently is the ITIL approach. Read on →

Over the last week both Ruby and Python have had moments in the sunshine, between Jim Hugunins (now of Microsoft) IronPython 1.0 release and Sun hiring JRuby developers it’s nice to see the bigger players notice how far dynamic languages have come. So what do the little languages that can get from this? It’s a decent sized list - a huge range of well written libraries (both .NET and Java have a ton of supporting code available and a lot of it is damn good), a large potential user base (especially for IronPython) and enterprise recognition; while more forward thinking developers know all about the benefits of dynamic languages there are a lot of late adopters that are about to see the shiny things for the first time. Read on →

I’ve been very remiss about blogging the July Ask Later evening, organised by Steve Coast and Tom Carden. The format was different to any presentations I’ve seen before, each speaker had 20 seconds to present each of their 20 slides, and no way of altering the timing. BWHAHAHA. The first speaker had me worried, without trying to sound harsh, his timing was off and my fears about sudden rushing as a slide changed before he was finished and awkward silences in between came flooding back to me. Read on →

Here are three nice, simple, general rules regarding releases that you should try and stick to. If you don’t then you’re running on luck and eventually you’ll get called while doing something way more fun than deploying yet another bug fixing release. No releases on the day before a weekend / national holiday. No releases within two hours of the official end of your work day. No releases before you go away on holiday. Read on →

I know the title of this post might seem a little premature but it’s going to take something amazing to beat Skys skateboarding advert. The last couple of times I’ve been to the cinema I’ve seen an advert for Sky that features some stunning skateboarding by Danny Way, the adverts footage was taken from a documentary on him, with Regina Spektor - US providing the music. Mute the skateboarding clip, hide the US window and watch along, it’s very cool. Read on →

Watch it be done in under five minutes in the MS SQL Preauth Attack, Pwdump and John the Ripper video. Surprising? No. Fun to watch? Yes! Every now and again it’s nice to be reminded our systems are not as secure as we’d like to think.

Here’s a link shot to some of the events I want to try and get to over the next two months, they’ve mostly not been very well advertised: Steve Coast on Geospatial Open Source Activity - hosted by the BCS on September 9th. I’ve not kept up with Steves bundle of projects (OpenStreetmap and OpenPostcodes among a scary number of others) so I want to get along and see what he’s been up to. Read on →

Guy Kawasaki has a link to the Startup Success 2006 Recording on his blog. From the good humoured and funny snipes at LinkedIns Reid Hoffman to some great tidbits of information (“Expensable not approvable” and “Convince the fewest number of people possible to buy it”) from Joe Kraus it’s well worth watching, even at over an hour long. I was also impressed with Guy in his role as moderator, I’ve been to a lot of conferences over the years and he’s one of the smoothest moderators I’ve seen. Read on →