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July 4, 2003

Doctor StrangeCrash...or How I Learned to NOT Love IDE RAID

Well, my great idea of using an IDE RAID controller to mirror one of my servers blew up in my face today, when the primary harddrive failed the system slowly died. Sadly, the IDE RAID controller decided to stop mirroring drives months ago, so I'm left with only backups...and those were works in progress, so I don't have everything. *pouts* What is especially troubling...I can't get physical access to the server until Monday 'cause of the holiday weekend.

UPDATE: Everything but a few personal files have been restored...whew!

February 22, 2004

Google searches

One of the more entertaining (if not a little enlightening) things about hosting your own website is that you get to log all of the accesses to the site and then review the logs whenever you want. One of the things that browsers do is send a “Referrer” header along with the web requests. This usually shows the page a person is coming from when they click through a link to your page. In the case of a search engine, you often get to see the search terms people use in order to come across your pages.

Continue reading "Google searches" »

April 9, 2004

*** THINGAMABOX MAINTENANCE NOTICE: MONDAY 04/12/2004 6PM ***

For 6 years, you and the other people who share the Thingamabox servers have received free hosting, courtesy of first IAI (thanks Chris), then Paladin Investments (thanks Mike and Keith).

Due primarily to the sale of Paladin, we will need to find an alternate home for our servers.

After doing a lot of research, it appears that the most cost effective way to host the servers at a near T1 speed is over a DSL line out of my apartment. Mike has arranged for us to take the servers we are currently running on, which means that this will, initially, just be a move from one Internet provider to another.

This move is scheduled to occur Monday night, April 12th, beginning at 6pm CDT. Portions of the move have already been performed - the DSL line is installed and tested, DNS changes have already been put in place in order to facilitate as seamless of a move as possible. Since we are moving the physical servers, there will be downtime associated with the move - service should be restored by midnight. Arrangements to cache email have been made until the move can be completed, so Tuesday morning you should notice nothing different and no mail should be lost or bounced.

Once we complete the move, we're looking forward to being able to be even more flexible with the types of things we can offer. FrontPage extensions should return, easier access to update your websites through built-in Windows functionality, blogging software, hosted photo albums and an idea I'm kicking around about working out a way to provide unlimited email storage are just for starters.

All of this is not without cost - at the very least since we will now be paying for the Internet access instead of getting it for free. We haven't yet decided how we will cover these costs - we're certainly open to suggestions, tho.

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to email me or call me. (Mike's busy enough as it is!) We will send out another status update after we've completed the move on Monday night.

April 13, 2004

Re: *** THINGAMABOX MAINTENANCE NOTICE: MONDAY 04/12/2004 6PM ***

The move was completed as of 11:45 this evening. Everything went according to plan, there were no serious issues encountered during the move.

I (along with others located around the Internet) have completed a quick Q/A check of the servers. It appears that all services, websites, etc are operating correctly and are able to be accessed from all of the testing locations.

Please let Mike or myself know if you have any questions or if something isn't working correctly. Otherwise, thank you for your patience. Within the next month or so we'll be sending information on some of the new "features" which come along with our new hosting arrangement. If you've got any requests, please feel free to let us know!

Damon & Mike

October 13, 2004

Order in the Court

Tonight I came home from work and started work on restoring some sense of sanity to the apartment.

I’ve made efforts over the past year or so to unpack from the house, get rid of what I don’t need or want and make some space in here for the things I love.

I spent most of the night picking things up which were already unpacked, although I did manage to make a small dent around the dining room table as well.

A trip to the Hennepin Country Hazardous Waste Center (computer recycler) this weekend should help clear out some space…I’ve got a bunch of old computers that are just sitting in the middle of the floor gathering dust. 486DX/66’s, a Pentium 60…even an old CompuAdd 386/25! The Apple IIgs I had while growing up will stay, along with all the currently used boxen.

Tomorrow night I’ll try to finish off the kitchen and the books.

Getting these three things out of the way first is important - I know I need storage in all three areas, otherwise things will fall back into disrepair rather quickly. The rest of the stuff is assorted junk which will need to find its place - but the first three need to establish their places first.

October 15, 2004

"Suck it", Dick (100th Post)

A great big “Suck it” to the RV/Sport shop owned by Dick in Durand, Wisconsin. (Whom I won’t link to or name, since I don’t want to increase its Google page rank in the slightest)

For years my homepage was the first hit when you searched for Damon Durand on Google. About a year ago I got bumped into number two spot by the previously mentioned site. When I tried to increase my rank through the use of Meta tags and submitting my site for search at Google’s Add URL page I disappeared from the Google index entirely. (Not just demoted; if you searched for any trace of my site you wouldn’t find it at all other than external links pointing to it) A few days ago I noticed that GoogleBot craweled my site once again…I knew it was only a matter of time until I’d be relisted.

I signed up through Google Alerts and waited. This morning I got the first matching alert, switched over to Google and did a search. I’m not only back in the list now, but I’m the first hit, too. Yay!

On a quick aside, this is the 100th post on my weblog. I’ve picked up the posting pace over the past few weeks, so hopefully the 200th post will be here in much less time. I’m sure the blogging activities have helped matters a bit, too, since Google loves linked content and I’ve been doing much more of that as of late, too.

October 22, 2004

Spam Spam and More Spam

While I’ve gotten a bit of comment spam here and there over the past few months, it was nothing like what I was greeted with this morning when I got into work and opened up my email. Every entry on my blog had a spam comment added to it.

I started deleting comment after comment but soon realized there had to be a better way. 15 minutes later, I removed all of the comment spam in one action with MT-Blacklist. Worked great! I’ve heard others talk about it, but I guess it wasn’t until I got picked up by Google that it became a huge problem.

October 26, 2004

Watch-ing Spam

Total Spam Blocked
Apr 20048796
May 20049110
June 20049102
July 20047682
Aug 20048626
Sept 20047495

We do quite a bit of spam filtering here at Thingamabox.

Even with blocking all of those messages, we continue to get spam in our inboxes daily.

For the last few weeks, almost every piece of spam I’ve received has involved somebody trying to sell me fake Rolex watches! Lay off already! I’ve already got the fake Rolex my Grandmother brought back for me from Mexico years ago. I don’t need two!

[Updated 7:30pm]

I finally got around to reading my daily news, and noticed the Register just happened to run a story on this Rolex/Spam phenomena here.

October 27, 2004

Gumby Day

Sounds like Mike is going to have some free time today, so I’m taking a half-day and we’re gonna work at getting the new Gumby server up and running.

I’ve had the new server for the last 5 months or so, but I’ve been putting off building it up until the FreeBSD 5.x series was marked stable. It looks like this is a reality, or at least will be shortly, so we should be able to build up the box and start tracking 5-STABLE with it.

All kinds of goodness will come forth from this…more disk space, new versions of all the hosted software, including MovableType 3.1x for the blogs. Yay!

Updates throughout the day. Not sure if we’ll cut over to the new box or we’ll just set it up and schedule switchover a few weeks out. Depends on how seamless we can do it.

Finale of Gumby Day

Well, Gumby didn’t get completely finished tonight. There were a few problems getting Gumby up and running to begin with…then Mike and I got distracted numerous times chitchatting about all things geek.

Good progress was made. And it was great to spend a geek afternoon/evening with Mike.

October 28, 2004

Pity the Morons

…or Today’s Honorary AssBeaver1:

About a week ago I followed a very, very poor driver about 2 miles back to my house. The driver pulled through an intersection from a “Left Turn Only” lane. He was completely oblivious to his error and the fact that he was cutting off everyone who was in the proper lane. Then the driver proceeded to drive up the big hill at a turtle’s speed (the car could easily have taken it much quicker), make a right turn without signaling at the top, signal AFTER the left turn in front of the apartment complex and then spend 2 minutes while I remained stopped behind him - the whole time spent digging for his garage access card or something. Finally, he pulls in (I follow after being a good boy and sliding my access card in to restart the garage door timer) and I have to wait a bit more while he pulls into his parking spot, then pulls back out, then back in to realign.

I dismissed him as being distracted, a moron, or both. I didn’t think it would really matter.

So, tonight I pull into my parking garage after returning from the Durand Family Board Meeting. As I turn the final corner, here the guy’s car is parked in the middle of the driveway. I pause for a moment, looking for the driver to once again be realigning his car and noticed no one was sitting in the car.

I pull my Beetle off to the side, ponder what to do next. I go back out and look, there is no way I’m gonna get my car around his and down to my assigned spot. I look inside, see the flashing red light indicating the alarm is set (It is a Jetta, VW uses the same components in many of their vehicles) and I notice the parking brake isn’t set and the car is in neutral.

Yes. This man parked his car, hopped out, set the alarm and walked away as it rolled back into the driveway. From the looks of the positioning of the concrete pylons, I’m guessing it bumped against one of the pylons as it rolled out in the middle of the thoroughfare, then came to rest right in the middle.

I thought about pulling my car back out into the parking lot and parking it there for the night. ‘course, that would mean I’d have to carry in all my stuff in the drizzle. Never mind the fact that there were 4-5 other spots empty past the car where I’m used to seeing parked vehicles, meaning others would be inconvenienced as well.

I decide we shall not all suffer because of the acts of a single moron.

I gave the car a test push and it rolled easily enough. The wheels were aligned perfectly to roll right back into the assigned spot just fine. I knew it would just roll back out if I left it unblocked, so I knew I had to find a block for the wheels.

I went walking down to my parking spot, looking for something I could use to block one of the rear tires (better make it big so the guy will notice he’s blocked in) and found one of those tubes of sand. (They were in my parking spot when I moved in…no one’s ever claimed them, so I just leave them forever in the community property area) I pull the tube of sand down the 120 feet or so to his assigned spot and line it up so I can slide it quickly underneath the rear passenger tire.

I give the car a push up and back into the parking spot, move to the side and push the bag of sand behind the wheel. After making sure the car came to a complete stop, I hop back in my Beetle and drive down to my spot.

I consider the ineptitude this guy has displayed on not only this but the previous occasion and decide I better leave a note - else he think someone put the bag of sand there as a decoration. I find a scratch piece of paper; leave him a note written in absolutely most simplistic language I could manage. I wish it were possible to express myself monosyllabically, since I have a feeling this would be the moron’s preferred vocabulary, but I figure if he can’t read it he can ask someone to help him:

“You forgot to set your brakes on your car. Found it rolled out in the middle of the garage, blocking traffic. Rolled it back into the parking spot, put a bag of sand behind the rear passenger wheel.”

I thought about adding in a comment about his intelligence, but decided against it. Prbly should have added that this was his second strike in my eyes, but I have a feeling he’s got a lot of strikes built against him already.

1 JManDoo and I decided that all poor drivers would henceforth be referred to as assbeavers. We even registered the domain AssBeavers.com, thinking we’d establish a clearing house for reporting assbeavers you may encounter on the road. You can identify an assbeaver by the following behaviors (this IS not meant to be a complete list!):

  • Driving really slow in the left-hand lane
  • Pacing cars in other lanes - hindering any attempts to pass
  • Incorrect use of turn signals/indicators
  • Over-compensating for weather-related road conditions
  • Generally being a poor driver

November 12, 2004

Weekend Chores

A list of the weekend chores:

  • Eliminate at least one of the big piles of boxes still taking up space in my apartment.
  • Finish all laundry, clearing out the second bathroom for the repair man next week.
  • Finalize plans for Durand Family Turkey Day next Sunday and email information to family participants.
  • Go grocery shopping to pick up required items for above-mentioned Durand Family Turkey Day.
  • Work on the Novel.
  • Finish Pokey build for testing next week.
  • Line up tire replacement next week.
  • Find some time to relax in the midst of all the pressing matters.

December 9, 2004

New Data Center Rules

RULES AND REGULATIONS

  1. All food and beverages allowed
  2. No ear protection required
    1. This rule may be changed if a game of Lacrosse is in session or JManDoo is playing one of his WB TV show soundtracks
  3. Cell phone use allowed
  4. Because of the proximity of working areas and lack of ventilation in the data center, please practice proper personal grooming before entrance
  5. There is no number 5
  6. Only ones and zeros are allowed to be processed in this data center
  7. Due to the lack of a raised floor, all cables shall be managed using the �Ninja-spaghetti� style upon the work surfaces
  8. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200
  9. There are no cages to be opened, so don�t ask for the key
  10. If you walk your robot dog, be sure to clean up after it
  11. Robot dogs and all non-technical employees must be kept on a leash at all times
  12. This area has been designated as a fallout shelter
  13. In the event of an emergency, raise your hands above your head, run around screaming �Help me, help me!� and pray to your chosen deity
    1. If you have no chosen deity, feel free to borrow one from the provided deity cubby
  14. Any explosives or hazardous materials must be kept in your pockets
  15. Management bans guns on this premises � but we don�t care if you use them anywhere else
  16. At some point, you can get too many items on a list

ACCEPTABLE USE POLICY

Only authorized parties can access this data center, including but not limited to:

  • Booty Rap Dance Parties
  • Pool Parties
  • Development
  • Operations

Expressly unauthorized parties include:

  • Management
  • The Carrot Top Ragtime Band and 1-800-Collect Banjo Players
  • Boobahs

December 15, 2004

Comments Are Broken

About 4 or 5 times this morning some idiots decided to comment spam me at a rate of about 30 comments / second. Took me a while to track down what they were doing, considering that they were blacklisted so the comments never showed up.

I turned off the commenting script for right now, until I have a chance to track down the IPs and block them at the apache level. (It looks like all of the comment spam was coming from a handful of IPs repeatedly)

Their activities caused a number of timeouts for other Thingamabox hosts as well…sorry ‘bout that everyone!

Comments Fixed, Now Back To Lunch

Commenting has been restored. I will now return to eating my:

Chipotle Barbacoa Burrito

  • Rice
  • Pinto Beans
  • Tomatillo-Red Chili Salsa
  • Cheese
  • Lettuce

Be sure to keep the liquid nearby…that salsa gets hot after a while!

December 23, 2004

A Week Excuse!

This last week has been a hectic one - not only have I not been keeping up my site but I’ve fallen woefully behind keeping up with everyone else’s blogs. Bloglines 920 articles that are unread. Ugh.

What’s been keeping me busy? Well, between finishing all the chores leading up to the holiday AND work-related projects coming to a head I have hardly had time to keep up with real-life communications.

For those of you wondering…this also means the home theater system mentioned previously has yet to be opened. Which is just as well…it will be more proper to open it up after I open up the rest of my gifts. Something about it being a Christmas gift just screams to me not to open it early.

I’ve got some really exciting presents I just can’t wait to give this year…but I must not write about them here. Least not yet. The receivers may find out what they are getting before they get it - which would be rather unfortunate from the surprise perspective.

There’s also some exciting things in store for Damon’s Daemon in the new year. Right now, the first feature will be starting Feb 1. My mind is already a flutter (in its spare time) thinking about the wonderful things I’m gonna try to write. Hopefully I’m gonna get close to the NaNoWriMo total of 50,000 words.

Now I lay me down to sleep. Got a lot to do tomorrow, even tho I thiink most of my retail shopping visits are over after the grand tour I made tonight. Whew! Smooth sailin’ from here.

June 8, 2005

Power...We Need More Power

I finally drifted off to sleep last night around 2am. As my eyelids began to droop, I got to watch quite the show outside as the winds and rain battered the outside the apartment window. Lightning all over, trees being whipped back and forth by the wind, it was all there.

I wake up around 6:30am. I can’t read the clock…not all that unusual in the morning, due to the light coming in the window glaring off its display. Walk over to the bathroom…the light doesn’t work! Sure ‘nuff, the entire apartment is out. I checked the only wall-powered mechanical clock I have in the apartment, on the stove, and find out the power went out shortly before 4:00am. To eliminate the possibility that the power issue was contained within the apartment (circuit breakers, etc) I opened the door to the hallway…yup, only the bright red EXIT sign illuminated the hallway.

Continue reading "Power...We Need More Power" »

June 9, 2005

Disconnected

I felt so off balance yesterday when the servers were down. No personal email, no blog, no shell access. I missed 10 or so emails over the course of the day…the senders only knew my personal address and/or website. Considering that both of these were down until 4pm when they finally restored power at home, I didn’t get the message until nearly the end of the work day when email finally came trickling back into the servers.

Amazing how reliant one can become on their technology.

June 14, 2005

End Of An Era

Last night, with the mere flip of a power toggle, IAI’s IT systems ceased operations.

[Who's IAI, you might ask? More info on the history of IAI and my history with them below the fold]

Fifth Third had been slow to replace the IT operations of Paladin/IAI after the acquisition - the staff had continued to use many of the same systems they had beforehand. As systems were replaced, things were turned down, but the “core” of the Novell, Microsoft NT and Lotus Notes networks continued to operate. Last night, after one final replication off the Notes server to a spare workstation, all three networks ceased operations. Servers were turned down, UPS power turned off, cables unpatched and cleaned up.

Together we pulled out all the KVM units, at least 100 network cables, 8 phone lines, and 8 or 9 leftover server chassis. We had a chance to tell stories, stack up all the leftover equipment, even took a moment to admire the hack job we performed on move weekend years ago to finish the wiring job the electrician didn’t do in order to get the UPS up by SOB Monday morning. Mike Anderson had the honor of turning off THOR and ZEUS, the main Novell and Microsoft NT servers, respectively, and I turned off the UPS power. Thus was the end of the IAI IT Infrastructure.

It is fitting, tho, that there is going to be an IAI reunion party next month. Perfect timing? I certainly think so! In the lead up to the party I’ll be writing a bunch of nostalgic pieces about IAI…there are so many stories I was reminded of last night that I’ve never put down into words.

Continue reading "End Of An Era" »

June 19, 2005

Kickball: Week 5

Josh was gone this week for the game, and so was our first week’s captain Jodi, so the honorable Dan Rothstein was our captain for the evening. During the week, I had setup LMPKickball.com, your source for authoritive LMP kickball coverage. As part of that effort, I put together a little Questionnaire to help complete each player’s bio page on the site. While we were waiting for the game to start, a few people took advantage of the downtime and filled out their questionnaires…the rest promised to submit them over the next week. I threatened that anyone not doing so would be punished by having a completely false bio put together…we’ll see how many people take the threat seriously.

This week we played the Uncle Rico’s Raiders, captained by the division president, Amy Ciardiello. As an added bonus, my parents made it out to the game to take in everything WAKA kickball is about (as much as they could without playing, of course!)

The game started off in a bad way for LMP, but in the end we managed to eek out a tie. Amy got semi-violent (you know she was that way ‘cause a beer went flying up in the air!) when the ump made a questionable call for the 4th out of an inning, but otherwise the game went off smoothly.

My mother’s comments were great…

“Whoever the captain of the green team is sure has a potty mouth!”

My parents and I took in a wonderful meal at Kinh Do and I headed over to Williams afterwards. The flipcup games had already began, so after visiting with the team (and picking up my first 2-for-1 drink special, Scooby Snacks, please!) I joined in and played my heart out as you may be able to see if you browse through the selection of pictures on the league’s photo album.

The mid-season party was on Saturday as well…sadly I wasn’t able to make it. Word is, tho, that the LMP members who did make it performed admirably in the “Flipcup Cup”, taking the grand prize. Way to go LMP! Yeah!

September 2, 2005

Real Life Disaster Recovery/Management

Here’s a blow-by-blow blog of a REAL disaster management/recovery situation, direct from New Orleans.

http://mgno.com/
If that link doesn’t work, use
http://www.livejournal.com/users/interdictor/

Starting back on Tuesday, you can read all about their efforts to keep their data center up and running. Obtaining fuel for the generators, figuring out maintenance on said generators, physical security, upstream bandwidth availability, employee’s safety and family updates, even such secondary activities as payroll and webcamming views outside of the offices.

Otherwise, I have nothing else to say. My mind is filled, has been filled, will be filled with thoughts for those people who are living this disaster first-hand. Most people knew this kind of disaster was coming, but that doesn’t make the absolutely horrific situation down in New Orleans any easier to swallow.

September 8, 2005

Some Notes For Googlers

WARNING: PURE GEEK POST AHEAD. CONSIDER TAKING EVASIVE ACTION.

Over the past week I’ve setup two different heavy-iron machines (or, at least they were when they were initially purchased) with FreeBSD. Uncharacteristically, I’ve run into a few issues I thought I’d share so that others will not waste all the time I have troubleshooting, since this post will inevitably make its way into Google’s index.

Continue reading "Some Notes For Googlers" »

October 3, 2005

A Fortnight Away...

It’s been 2 weeks since I last wrote…what have I been up to?

  • Been busy working on Gumby/Pokey, the new server(s) meant to replace Red and Farmer. I really should have done this months ago…in another month I won’t care that the two old servers put out more BTUs than my furnace. (The new machine(s) puts out about 25% less than the old two). Most of you couldn’t care less about this…but it is a Big Deal ™, I assure you.
  • Work has been busy. Real busy. Don’t even bother to open up my IM client busy. The good news is, most of the projects that have been keeping me busy are either coming to a close or have reached a breakpoint. The bad news is, there are lots of other projects waiting in the wings, more than likely leaving my IM client unstarted for many more days, if not moons.
  • I’ve taken some time out of the busyness to get the apartment even more organized. Good to have the nest a bit less cluttered before winter arrives.
  • Celebrated two birthdays over the past 2 weeks.
  • Managed to make it to the first Minnesota RollerGirls roller derby bout of the second season. Love their new digs (they are now at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium) and the show is really becoming much more polished and entertaining.

There’s more, but those are other entries…

November 11, 2005

Time Flies

A thousand pardons to everyone out there who cares to review, on a regular basis, this little corner of cyberspace.

Work has been crazy, and I mean CRAZY, busy.

Over the past month or so, I’ve had almost no social life outside of work. Working late almost every night - even had to work a few hours this past weekend. Trying to make a deadline that was unreasonable, but I knew I had to make it nonetheless, otherwise the next few months would be boring. (‘cause no one announces new products in December!)

Luckily, as of 7:30 last night, my crazy assignment has finally been turned down from a rolling boil to a simmer. This happened just in time, as tonight was my Mom’s birthday celebration at Kincaid’s. Not only would I never miss my Mom’s birthday celebration, but I’d never miss a meal at Kincaid’s, either!

Now that the meal is over, I finally had some time to get around to bringing three items out of draft, and there will be a few entries I’ll be writing over this weekend. Hopefully, they will include installing the new Gumby server into production. That’s what I’m working on now. ‘course, considering that it has sat here languishing in the server stack near my desk for most of the past month, I now need to upgrade things before I can even contemplate putting it into production. Oh well, might as well test the upgrade process before I put it into production, right?

December 14, 2005

Ketchup

Wow, I’ve only posted 4 times since November 1st. What’s wrong with me? Has my life become that boring?

Yes, in many ways I suppose. Been busy working on a huge project at work…been taking up the vast majority of my time. A few weeks over the past month-and-a-half I’ve been only at home to sleep, shower and dress.

There have been a few highlights of the past few weeks, tho. The project referred to above is quickly coming together, I’m nearly done handing over the project to our operations group, letting me move on to other things. Thanksgiving went wonderfully with everyone together, the turkey turned out perfect, the rest of the food was equally delicious. Continued good luck at Pub Trivia nights, even took a second place after a bitter triple-elimination following a three-way tie for first. Went to the Barenaked Ladies Holiday concert, along with everyone I know…least it seemed that way. Got Gumby/Pokey installed finally this past weekend…which is why you’re seeing a new style here. Still need to tweak it, add the menu back, get the rest of my pages fixed, but it will do for now.

There have been a few lows as well. My Beetle ended up needing to make a visit to the car doctors at Westside VW. The oil pressure light began flashing whenever it was running faster than idle…the cause was a clogged oil pickup tube. A couple hundred for the diagnosis and fix…but I can’t complain too much, only have 2 more payments left, then the car is completely mine. I figure for 2-3 months worth of payments I can restore my good ‘ol Beetle back into a decent shape, ready for another 50k miles or more.

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