October 24, 2011

Server evacuation

I'm stuck in the middle of the Great Thailand Flood of 2011. My entire factory was flooded, and I had to evacuate my server backups to a safe and dry place.

A few years ago, when I was writing policies for SOX compliance, there was a section about risk assessment and business continuity planning, and one of the issues was how to resume operations in case of fire or flood or other acts of God. Who would've thunk that after less than four years, everything I wrote has to be put into actual usage?

So, we were evacuated out to a nearby hotel with free Wi-Fi, and all the managers are connected to the free Wi-Fi, and then they need printing. So I went back to the flooded factory and took out (by boat) a trusty Linksys WRT160NL and a Canon inkjet printer. Previously I talked about using the WRT160NL to share USB printers, but this is slightly different since I don't actually have a LAN any more.

It turned out to be quite easy, I just joined the WRT160NL to the hotel's free Wi-Fi by using client bridge, then used Angry IP Scanner to find a free IP address outside of what I think is the normal DHCP range, and then I just pointed everyone's printer to the new IP address of the WRT160NL, and then we got printing.

While setting things up, I suddenly lost Wi-Fi connectivity, and I called the hotel's front desk to ask them to reset the Wi-Fi, and they told me the only Wi-Fi they have is down at the lobby, and it was working perfectly. I ended up having to find a maid on my floor to ask her if she has ever seen a little box with blinking lights, and she pointed me to a Linksys WAP54G. I simply power cycled the access point and all was fine again.

October 13, 2011

RIP dmr

Two technological giants have passed away within a week of each other, and few have heard of Dennis Ritchie.

When I got my first computer in grade school, the first programming languages I learned were naturally BASIC and Pascal. When I was in high school and got serious in programming, I taught myeslf C and Smalltalk. Eventually, I went to collage to learn real computer science. Strangely enough, I was taught Modula-2 and assembly language (the joke was, we write VAX assembly language with Sun, and write 68K assembly language with VAX) while in classes, but outside of classes, I taught myself Visual Basic and some C++. (Java and Python and Ruby and .NET all came after.)

Although I never became the Ferrari-driving hotshot demigod coder that I wished to be when I was young, and I rarely do any coding now, but what I've learned both by myself and in school have had huge impacts in my thinking and working style. Thank you, Dennis.

October 6, 2011

RIP Steve

When I was growing up, the first computer I ever used was the Apple ][. (And yes, I have to write II like that.) Even though when I finally saved enough money to buy my own Apple ][, somehow I ended up with a Commodore 64, but the Apple ][ always had a special place in my heart, and I totally admired Apple's founders.

Of course, being the young geek and future engineer that I was, Steve Jobs was always "the other Steve" to me. Fast forward thirty years, I guess few people these days even know of Woz except for us engineer types and students of computer history. It's all about Steve Jobs and his Apple Empire. But I still totally admire the two Steves and what they have done.

Rest in peace.