Archive for category Community

At Gartner Datacenter Conference this week…

I’ll be at the Gartner Datacenter conference in Las Vegas all this week. In my new role at work I’m no longer directly responsible for our US datacenters, but I will be helping to shape our world wide datacenter and networking strategies (among others). If the conference is anything like last year’s there will be LOT of “cloud” in addition to the core topic. It will be interesting to see updates on the major initiatives that large scale operations like Bank of America, eBay and others talked about last year.

The usual Twitter hashtag for the conference is #gartnerdc. If you’re interested in datacenters, “devops”, “green IT”, “orchestration” or “cloud”, I recommend that you follow the tag.

The IPv6 series will continue as usual next week with posts on Tuesday and Thursday.

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Crowdsourcing my RSS feed

Last week I ranted about how much media I was consuming (or at least wading through) as opposed to writing.  Part of that was the 436 RSS feeds I had in Google Reader.

As of this morning, I have 93 feeds. And the quality of what I’m seeing is higher.

I’m implementing a suggestion from one of the smartest people in my life. I’m crowd sourcing my RSS feed.

I did this by removing most of the source news sites themselves, and keeping (and adding) individuals. I’ve dropped everything from Pharyngula to Gizmodo, Engadget to Ars Technica.  Goodbye NYT and CNN. I don’t need you anymore, at least not as RSS feeds.

You know why? Because there are a lot of smart people out there who read your content. Each individual doesn’t read all your content, every day, but enough of them see some portion of your content, and are moved to write about it (on their blogs) or  “share” it themselves in Reader. By following those individuals one way or another, I get the best of your content, without wading through everything.

I’m giving these individuals editorial control of my daily news, instead of each of you. Why? Because they are interested in sharing what they think is the most important, or funny or interesting content each day. They don’t care how many hits you get, or your ad revenue. They care about sharing what they think is the very best of the Internet. They’re willing to attach their identity to their opinions about what is “good” and make recommendations about your content.

But this is a two-way street. I’m more careful, more targeted, more thoughtful about what I share. I don’t want to pollute your RSS feed (if you’re following me) with too much low quality dross to wade through.

So, what have I kept, or added to my own RSS feed reader?

I’ve kept all the LOPSA Member Blogs; individuals writing about the things they are most passionate about, especially system and network administration. I’ve kept a few specific humor sites that I enjoy, but I don’t even try to read everything, everyday. I’ve kept quite a few blogs by individuals on topics that I enjoy: computer security, system administration, writing, film noir, brewing, etc. I’ve kept all the blogs by the people in my life, friends and family.

I’m continuing to seek out individuals that post interesting things and follow them as individuals, to see what they’re writing, reading (and recommending).

I still have more source sites to prune, and more individuals to add, but this has already made a huge difference in my daily news reading. I made it through my entire RSS feed list in less than an hour Sunday morning, even though I hadn’t read anything for at least four days.

I no longer dread opening my Reader feed and seeing “everything that I’m going to miss”. I’m trusting that you will all find the best of the stories  and bring them to my attention.

Thanks for reading teh Intarwebs for me, and sharing the very best. I’ll try to do the same for you.




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Where Wizards Stay Up Late (Book Review)

Here’s one from the Archives.  This is a book review I wrote back in 1996. While the review itself is a little dated, the book itself has stood the test of time. It is still one of the best histories of the beginning of the Internet.

Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet by Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon

The Internet has erupted onto the scene of mainstream consciousness in just a few short years.  Numerous attempts to “explain” all this technology has lead to a plethora of books purporting to educate “everyman” about the innermost workings of this technology.  Out of this morass of poorly-researched books (and entirely too few good ones) comes something more interesting: a technological history of the Internet’s direct ancestor. Read the rest of this entry »

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The “Usenet trap”, or reading vs. writing

You have all probably noticed that this blog isn’t updated very often.  I’m afraid I’ve fallen into what Vernor Vinge once described to me as the “Usenet trap”.

A long time ago I was fortunate enough to spend time with him on a semi-regular basis, and even shared an office with him for one semester. At that time I asked him if he ever read Usenet News (which tells you how long ago this was), and he said (paraphrasing) “No.  If you are reading, you aren’t writing, and I want to spend more time creating, and not all my time consuming.” At that time he was working on the draft that became “A Fire Upon the Deep.”

I spent some time over the past week, looking at how much time I spent consuming “media” (reading) as opposed to writing (other than work). Read the rest of this entry »

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An interview with Kyle Brandt of Server Fault

About a month ago, Server Fault partnered with LOPSA to give 40 Server Fault members free LOPSA memberships based on who had provided the best technical information during the month (as measured by Server Fault reputation).

Server Fault and LOPSA have a lot in common.  Both are communities of system administrators, and both are committed to advancing the state of the art in IT.  Both are committed to system administration as a whole, not just “Linux admins”, “Windows admins”, “network admins”, etc.

I’ve only been a Server Fault member for a little while, but I have already gotten great value from the community there. I’ve learned some technical things (my Windows-fu really sucks), and most importantly, I’ve learned more about what I would call “new school” system administration and new ways to work with users and their community.

Kyle Brandt is one of the administrators who works behind the scenes to keep Server Fault up and running smoothly, and he also writes about his experiences at the Server Fault Blog.

Server Fault will be having a one day conference for system administrators and operations people this October called Scalability.  Check out for details!

Kyle was kind enough to take some time from his busy schedule to answer some questions about what it is like to manage such a large and busy system, that serves a community that can be rather demanding at times.

Read the rest of this entry »

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obligatory Google+ post

It seems everyone has one.  I can’t really add much to all the tens of thousands of words that have been written, so I’ll just point you to the beginning:

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Tom’s Lessons Learned

Over the years I’ve had a lot of opportunities to learn from some really smart people, and some really epic failures.  Many of my managers, colleagues, mentors  and interns have imparted some of the lessons that they learned the hard way, and I’ve learned a few myself under similar circumstances.

A new sysadmin once told me that “we are a community of storytellers”.  I think he is on to the core of our community:  we share our knowledge, lessons and experience through stories that impart a lasting change in the listener.  We do believe in education and training, but it is the mentoring, “war stories” and jokes (often at our own expense) that impart the most lasting lessons.

My grandfather was a railroader for almost 40 years.  When I was very, very young, he showed me his copy of the Railroad Rules and Regulations.  It was a big thick book, small print and well-thumbed.  He said, “Every rule in here is a body.  Someone died or was injured for just about every one of these rules.  There’s a story behind every paragraph in this book.”

While our failures (and successes) can be spectacular, they rarely involve injury or death.  But there’s a story behind each one.

I’ve started collecting some of the lessons that I’ve either learned myself, or learned from others.  There’s nothing particularly profound here, but maybe one or two will resonate with you or even help you avoid learning them yourself, the hard way.  You can be sure that there’s a story behind each one.

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