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Thursday, February 21 2008

Between Jobs

For dessert: 4 bags of chocolate chips

It feels very very strange to be unemployed -- it's been 7 years since the last time, and I was too freaked out at Shooting Gallery laying me off to feel this way. Now that I'm a grown-up (having kid(s) means you're responsible, even when you're irresponsible!) it's a good thing that we're covered by RU insurance past the start date for GS insurance, but the whole experience is still very odd. I wiped the third computer today at 5:30pm, and am copying data off computer #4 (old reppep.com) right now in preparation for retiring it (it's falling apart, apparently -- optical drive died an hour ago).

Now I just need Apple to update the MBP15s, so I can replace this PowerBook. It's doing better than I thought, though -- doesn't seem any doubt that it will serve until the next update.

RU IT did right by me today -- a grand spread, consisting of John's pizza, baby back ribs, beef ribs (they looked like something from The Flintstones), and chicken wings. A nice (short) speech by Armand, and well wishes all around. Elaine hung a bunch of colorful signs, which delighted Julia.

I closed out my helpdesk tickets, turned in my keys (forgot to turn in my ID/swipe card, though), and updated the documentation on our load balancers again, as well as re-re-recapping for my co-workers. I had to say "Look, when you feel like you're an idiot, don't worry -- I felt like that repeatedly for years while working with these. The Big-IPs are absurdly complicated. Two kernels, a super 'switch card' that's doing all kinds of crazy (non-switch) stuff, over 20 IP addresses, 8 networks, plenty of bugs, and delays in getting technical support. It's not you!"

Maybe I'll have some time to investigate Linux & Windows text editors.

Friday, February 1 2008

Goodbye RU, Hello GS

I have accepted a position at Goldman Sachs in Jersey City. Leaving Rockefeller after 7 years as a UNIX admin (and an earlier 3 doing Mac support) was a tough decision. I learned a lot, and worked with a bunch of great people, but it is definitely time for a change. I expect to start February 25th and immediately enter firehose mode, as Goldman is so different than the other places I have worked. I'll still be a UNIX administrator, but the specifics of the role will of course be totally different. Among other things, I have to start thinking of "security" as something people exchange, rather than the never-ending attempt to fend off bad folks.

Monday, October 22 2007

Rockefeller Updates

I stopped posting about the Super-Tent, because not much has changed since we moved in. I did get a bigger desk when Mark left Rockefeller, which matters to me but not much to anyone else. I have continued to take pictures of Rockefeller as the various construction projects proceed, though.

Wednesday, October 3 2007

Old School: Ancient UNIX

Rockefeller University, where I work, was one of the original UNIX sites. In 1975, Mel Ferentz held what was apparently the second UNIX users group meeting (it is not clear if he was one of the organizers of the first meeting, in 1974). Mel went on to build USENIX out of those meetings. He moved on to Rockefeller University soon after those first meetings; just before I started at RU Computing Services, Mel stepped down as Director of RUCS, and moved on to develop Internet2 at NYSERNET.

Last week, Mark Kowitz left RU IT (RUCS after a name change), where he had worked for 23 years. Mark met his wife, Robin, in RUCS over 20 years ago. I met Amy there too, when I started in 1992 (I left in 1995, and Amy left in 1996; I came back; she has not). While cleaning out his papers, Mark found some old documentation on booting UNIX on the PDP-11/70, VAX 11/750, and VAX 11/780, and passed it along to me. Mark doesn't remember whether he or Mel wrote the documentation, but it is visibly classic UNIX documentation (distinctive fonts and layout).

Ancient UNIX boot instructions

You can see some more about booting PDP-11 UNIX (in emulation) at Ancient UNIX, 8bitsunplugged.org Digital Archeology, and Amit Singh's GBA UNIX.

To give you some idea of how much water there has since been under this particular bridge, UNIX was first developed on a DEC PDP-7 in 1969. Digital Equipment Corporation was basically bought by Compaq, which itself was later acquired by HP. This version of UNIX contains Western Electric license statement; UNIX was createdat Bell Labs, which was jointly owned by Western Electric and AT&T. Bell Labs was later absorbed into AT&T, spun out as part of Lucent, and merged with Alcatel to become part of Alcatel-Lucent.

AT&T split off UNIX into UNIX System Labs, which was later bought by Novell. Novell sold much of the UNIX business to Santa Cruz Operation, which sold its UNIX rights and the "SCO" name to Caldera. SCO changed its name to Tarantella and Caldera transformed itself from a Linux company into a UNIX company named "SCO Group". Alas, Caldera didn't make money either way, and eventually sued the world -- IBM, Novell, various of its own customers, etc.

Along the way, several BSDs were created to provide an alternative to AT&T's UNIX, later providing a family of excellent UNIX-based operating systems (including the core of Mac OS X). In contrast, Linux was launched in 1991 by Linux Torvalds, born in 1969, the same year as UNIX.

Those little pages are quite a time capsule!

Another paper, by Dennis Richie: http://cm.bell-labs.com/cm/cs/who/dmr/cacm.html.

Thursday, May 10 2007

RU Pictures, May 9th 2007

I took a bunch of pictures at RU today, including some of our DR site being expanded to become our primary machine room. Lots of AC & UPSes going in. I even got my father and Stu (Data Center Manager -- he gets an office outside the Super-Tent!) in a couple.

Dad & Stu

Wednesday, March 7 2007

Rockefeller Is a Good Place to Work

I was up on the 8th floor of the Rockefeller Research Building (RRB), and got captured by the prospect looking down, south onto the FDR and the East River, and separately west onto York at 63rd Street (and the Peggy Rockefeller Plaza). I took a bunch of pictures, including a few of the crowded mess that is my cube. Our move to the Super-Tent has been pushed back from March to April (tax day?), so I'll have to clean up and dump a bunch of stuff soon, to fit into the new cube-farm.

Peggy Rockefeller Plaza

But I was reminded that, overall, RU is a good place to be. It's why I came back after leaving several years ago, and why I've stayed this time (I'm in my 7th year this round).

FYI: Our web group has posted an excellent Interactive Campus Map.

Oh, and the camera is still going strong after having taken a total of 188 pictures & movies combined since its initial charge.