Sunday, July 19, 2009

Unix Admin Mantra - "Only the paranoid survives"

I am not a Unix admin. I had to pick it up due to the fact that I'm working on a small start-up company. I quickly learned that the mantra of Andrew Grove from Intell, "Only the paranoid survives" best fit for this type of job. System admins need to be ahead of the curve. The other day, I went to restart the only windowns server that I have and noticed an error in one of my Unix servers. The message was that I had a bad memory chip. How can I check if everything is OK, specially since my server are in a data center? Then I found out from Linux Journal that I can use SNMP and Nagios to get this type of monitoring. I will be playing with it along as with Ruby for the next couple of weeks. I hope to get status of memory modules, fans, and power supplies in each of my servers.
SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) is a network protocol designed for monitoring network-attached devices. It uses OIDs (Object IDentifiers) for defining the information,
known as MIBs (Management Information Base), that can be monitored. The design is extensible, so vendors can define their own items to be monitored

Teams - different breeds

I am a big believer of teams. When I completed my MBA, it was a huge shock for me. Most of my work was in teams. Being a Computer Science graduate, I always wanted to do the work either alone or with other individuals that were developers or knowledgeable in the computer field. During my MBA at the University of Miami, I learned much about teams. One thing that stuck with me is that cohesive teams become more united during great circumstances. Think about Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Katrina, or 9-11. During these times, people came together for one particular cause, their communities. The same thing happens when the team itself feels threaten.

I recently moved, and noticed that the drier of my new home was not working. Yesterday I called my landlord to explain to him about the problem. His voice started to break, and told me that his 17 year-old son drowned the day before and that he was going to take care of the drier issue later. Words cannot explain how I felt. I have a seven-year-old and he and my wife are my life. I cannot imagine what I would do if something similar happened to me. I told my landlord that he shouldn't worry about it, and that I would fix it and for him to focus on his family.

A day later, three gentleman came to the house and fixed the problem with my drier. They said that they came in behalf of my landlord. I found out that my landlord is the chief of the Miami Fire Department and they are proud to help their chief. One of the gentlemen told me,
Fire Departments are a different animal. We take care of our people.
I was deeply moved. It also made me think, would my team do the same thing for me? Would my friends? My wife and I picked up a sympathy card to send it to our landlord. I can't imagine what is he going through, but I would take this opportunity to remind me how vulnerable we are. Indeed, the hardest times reveal the true friendships.