Ping!

tl;dr version: I joined 10up in October, been very busy since. We just released a fancy-dance new plugin named PushUp Notifications. You should get in on it.
Long version: I joined 10up last October as a Senior Systems Engineer and have been head-down in systems for some pretty large customers since then. Obviously, blog output has suffered. *grin*
We (10up) just launched a nifty little plugin called PushUp Notifications that ties in with Apple Push Notifications for Safari to, get this, send push notifications from your WordPress blog. Publish a post, click the “Push desktop notification” checkbox, and hit “Publish” and all your subscribers will be notified. No RSS feeds, no Facebook updates, it just goes right to their desktops. Right now, it’s a 1.0 product, so it works with Safari for OS X, but in the future, we’re talking about extending it to Firefox, Chrome, iOS — the sky’s the limit, really.
If you’re reading Literal Barrage on Safari, you would’ve been prompted to allow push notifications for the site on your first visit here. Make sure to hit “Allow” and you’ll get notified whenever* I update the site.
Check out the demo video if you want a better sense of how this all works:

*Yeah, I know.

Good News, Everyone! (A Job!)


I’m extremely excited to announce that I have agreed to take a position with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (aka CHOP) starting in early August. I will be working as a senior Linux administrator in their research department and will get a chance to ply my trade in pursuit of gene sequencing and population studies in a high-performance cluster environment.
It’s definitely a bittersweet moment for me. This ends my just-under-two-years foray into self-employed IT contracting and, though I have enjoyed my time as an independent IT guru, I welcome the return of paid time off. *grin* I’m sad to be leaving my friends and compatriots at my current facility but am really excited for what the future holds.

I’m Speaking At WordCamp Philly

WordCampPhilly_Big.gif
Write down the date — October 30, 2010, the day before Halloween, I’m due to speak at WordCamp Philly down at Temple University in Philadelphia. I’m incredibly honored to be given the chance to speak on a topic near to my heart: Making WordPress Work AT Work. I plan on posting a series of articles over the next few months that will act as the foundation for my talk.
In the meantime, browse the #wcphl website and (after getting your tickets, of course) be sure to check out the other speakers that will be presenting.

Making phpPgAdmin Work

This post is more of a reminder to myself than anything else. It took me a while and a bit of Googling to find the right answer.
If you’re using phpPgAdmin to administer PostgreSQL databases and you want to be able to alter records from the web-based interface — i.e., you want each row to feature an “Edit” and “Delete” button — you’ll need to remember this: all tables that you want to use phpPgAdmin on must have a PRIMARY KEY defined. No PRIMARY KEY, no Edit/Delete links.

From The Dep’t Of Unintentional Hilarity

Red Hot And Hate
I don’t think the hiring committee really knows what it’s asking for on this one.
“Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. RedHate leads to a general dislike of humanity and root access.”

…Huh? Whazzat?

Egads! Cables!
Fear not, long-suffering readers, for lo!, I am yet alive. I’ve been reliving the last week each of the last three, namely: working ’til around 1am Monday and Tuesday followed up by general craziness with church-related stuff Wednesdays and Thursdays and then, more likely than not, time off on Fridays.
Things have calmed down for the moment, though. Be warned, however — the first person that says “Veritas”, “Legato Networker” or “JetStor” to me gets a withering stare and possibly a Vulcan Death Grip in return.
That is all that I shall say of the matter.

Seasons’ Change

Regular readers will have noticed that updates have been, well, sporadic around these parts. There’s a very good reason for this: September 4th marked my 7th anniversary at my company; September 5th, I was offered a new job. Monday was my last day at my old company, which I’ve always declined to mention, as it just seemed prudent. (Let’s just call it Mock Seed Tartan.) Tuesday was my first day at the new place.
I’m excited to be working at Learning By Grace — I’ve been brought on as “Mr. IT”, platforms guy and hopefully will be able to help them make a transition from more of a startup mentality to one more focused on production and performance.
Leaving my previous job was definitely a hard decision, though primarily for one reason and one reason only: the people. Beyond Aron I had many, many friends there and I will miss each and every one dearly.
Hopefully my posting frequency will begin to go back up a bit as I get acclimated in my new surroundings. Thanks for the understanding.
And to those of you at ATL: thanks for 7 great years. I wish you all the success in the world.

Bravo, Sun. Bra. VO.


As you’ll note, there was very little blog output ’round these parts two days ago (read: I didn’t post a single durn thing). This was entirely due to a very, very long 16 hour day which featured a large-scale LAN outage. The root cause was a bit of a heat problem we had about a week ago causing various and sundry hard drives to misbehave in highly passive-aggressive fashions, meaning reboots all-around were required to shake out the cobwebs. Only when we rebooted one of our biggest servers, it didn’t come back.
The root disk, which we have mirrored via Sun’s Volume Manager (used to be Solstice Disk Suite) was reporting that both halves of the root mirror “Need[ed] Maintenance“. Additionally, we were experiencing an error that read thusly:

Error: svc:/system/filesystem/root:default failed to mount /usr (see 'svcs -x' for details)
[ system/filesystem/root:default failed fatally (see 'svcs -x' for details) ]
Requesting System Maintenance Mode
Console login service(s) cannot run

Here’s the funny thing: we don’t break the /usr partition out separately. All core/root directories are mounted in the root partition, thus this sort of message was confusing, to say the least.
We called Sun for support, as the metasync d0 recommended by Sun’s output did diddly squat and attempts to boot from either side of the root mirror only ended in failure. I sat on the phone with Sun engineers for the better part of 5 hours, desperately searching for an answer. Sunsolve/Docs.Sun/internal Sun engineering documentation revealed nothing for either myself or the valiant support staff. Finally, while on hold yet again, in frustration I Googled the error we were receiving and came across this posting in which another user’s system was exhibiting extremely similar symptoms. Turns out that they were missing a newline at the end of /etc/vfstab and thus, by remounting the root partition as rw (instead of the ro that is the default for maintenance mode) and issuing an echo >> /etc/vfstab, they were able to get the system back up and booting. Beyond desperate, I emulated the behavior and, lo and behold!, the system booted. Several sets of metadevices needed syncing, but the root came up cleanly and we were back in business.
Needless to say, my Sun case engineer swore that he was going to document the case so that the next unfortunate soul that simply neglects to end a system-critical file with a stinkin’ newline can be quickly and efficiently told what to do.

Just Call Me MacGyver: Systems Administrator


I’m working a bit late today as I had to schedule some downtime for a critical piece of hardware that needed to be powered down, lightly disassembled, have a part replaced and then powered back up. As I unscrewed the part to be replaced, I thought to myself “Boy, it’d sure stink if I dropped this case screw down into the bottom of the case, what with this rack-mounted system being without true rails and all and thus really hard to get into.” Bet you can guess what happened next.
Cursing my luck, I sprinted back to my desk, grabbed my flashlight and the closest thing to a mirror I had on hand — a Dell system recovery CD. Back to the rack I went and, using the CD as an adjunct periscope, I located and managed to fish out the screw, no fuss, no muss.
I’m so proud of me.