Am I The Only One Affected By The Effects Of Grammar?

A colleague was drafting a memo to send out company-wide today and forwarded it to me for review. The copy was mostly good, although he referenced several “servers that will be effected by ongoing work” or somesuch. I replied that, while the memo itself was good, I had a grammatical bone to pick: the servers would be “affected” by the work, not “effected”. He replied that he remained convinced that “e” was the correct word, which sent me on a wild Googling spree.
I have always seen usage in-line with that which I outlined above (this quiz seems to bear out my conclusion – answers are here, for anyone that’s interested), and so I decided to try to run down the definitive answer. Unfortunately, Merriam-Webster is next-to-no help, but, in addition to the quiz mentioned above, I also found a few tips and tricks for remembering the difference and I appeal to no less authority than the Oxford English Dictionary’s site to prove me correct.
Am I off my rocker to be bothered by stuff like this? Should I have objected? After all, I was just trying to keep my colleague from embarrassing himself in a company-wide fashion.
And yes, I know, this makes me a huge, semantic, pedantic, annoying geek. Unfortunately, the intended audience of the email is filled with huge, semantic, pedantic, annoying, geeky engineers. I’m just trying to help a brother out!

I’d Best Be Working Some Overtime, Then.

I have to admit, I’ve started to become a bit of an Apple fanboy in the wake of my Powerbook/MacBook Pro conversion, but even if I hadn’t started down the road to Macdom, I still would have lusted after an iPod. (Not a Nano, not a Shuffle, a full-up iPod. I want to store my whole music collection on a single device. Shiny?) There’s only one small problem: the iPod has always been just a bit too pricey for my tastes, thus I’ve never pulled the trigger on a purchase. Apple seems to have their collective head screwed on just right when it comes to the portable music player market, so it was with interest that I “tuned” in to Engadget’s live coverage of Apple’s Tuesday “Show Time” keynote/press conference/whatever. After the event began, I hit the “Refresh” button on my browser about once every two minutes or so. What follows is an illustrated guide to my approximate thought process as Jobs’ presentation proceeded.

Blah, blah, blah, we’ve sold 50 gazillion iPods in its three model lines. Get on with it!
Continue reading “I’d Best Be Working Some Overtime, Then.”

It’s In The Air, Man! The Internet’s IN The AIR!

Verizon V640 menu
I’m sitting in an NTB waiting for the service techs to finish patching up a seeping flat, typing away on my MacBook Pro, posting courtesy of the mega-sweet Verizon Wireless V640 Express Card. My employer has been buying the PCMCIA “CardBus” offerings from Verizon for a little while now and, though the cards are on a check-out/check-in procedure, we have been finding that our users are extremely reticent to utilize the “check-in” portion of that equation (read: people love the cards and don’t want to give ’em back). However, we MBP users have been largely left out in the cold, since Apple oh-so-wisely decided to æschew the PCMCIA standard and offer the MBPs (and MacBooks, I believe…) with a single Express Card slot.
Well, we got our first shipment of the V640, one of Verizon’s two Express Card offerings, yesterday and I “valiantly” offered to take one home and test it out. I was amazed at how dead-simple the install was – apparently Mac OS X 10.4.7 comes with the requisite drivers already available and so setting up the card and getting on-line was literally a three click process.
The speed is pretty amazing for a wireless service running over a CDMA network. Speakeasy’s speed test has me clocking in at ~975kbps down/~130kbps up, which ain’t too shabby for browsing the web. Pulling large files would be a bear, I’d imagine (I haven’t tested it out yet). I really have to say, though, for the dedicated traveler blessed with an Intel Mac laptop, this card is a very compelling product (well, as long as you don’t have to foot the bill for the $180 card and ~$70 per month service fee, that is. Let the office pay for it).
They had me in and out in under 20 minutes and didn’t charge me a dime – apparently they usually only tip the guys in the back for fixing flat tires (turns out those hosers at Just Tires did a slipshod job and only plugged a hole last time I had the tire looked at; NTB did me up right with a full-up patch). Sweet.

Be Careful What You Wish For

While I definitely rejoiced in the “untimely” death of Smooth Jazz WJJZ, my joy was definitely short-lived, as the corporate monsterswonderful, caring people in charge of such things replaced The Hideousness That Was with The Hideousness That Is – the “lovely” sounds of B-Fargin’-101 now fill our restrooms.

Phriday Video Phun

Presented for your enjoyment:

  • Counter Struck: Counter-Strike meets the real world. Heh.
  • Those lucky British Microsoft sods – they got Ricky Gervais (of The Office fame) to do employee training videos for ’em. Brilliant. (Profanity warning: you know those Brits and their saucy tongues. A few NSFW words/topics are discussed in those vids.)
  • Bob Casey, Jr. ain’t reliable – Rick Santorum’s campaign says so.
  • Stephen Colbert offered a challenge to video editing geeks. The results are impressive in some cases, others not so much.

Fun In The Sun (Microsystems Server)

Or: RedHat Enterprise Linux’s `ypbind` Is Functionally Brain-Dead

WARNING/WARNUNG/ADVERTENCIA/AVERTISSEMENT: Geeky rant follows. If you don’t give a hoot about UNIX and/or Linux, you may just want to give this post a pass. -ed.
First, a little background: like many shops with a core infrastructure consisting of UNIX/*NIX servers of varying ages and configurations, we have run our network directory services using the venerable NIS directory technology provided by Sun Microsystems and implemented on nearly every single POSIX-compliant operating system on the planet. It is fast, well-understood, well-tested and generally easy to use (if set up properly). Our UNIX systems and desktops hum merrily along 99.9% of the time, blissfully confident in NIS’s ability to keep them happy and informed of the goings-on on the network. Our network is architected so that our primary (“master”) NIS server is supplemented by a lower-powered backup NIS “slave” server so that, in the event of a failure on our main server, the “slave” can take over and keep our NIS clients happy.
However, our secondary server has been having heartaches recently – apparently a patch from Sun that is supposed to prevent users from being able to overload the NIS server and cause it to

[…]prevent the ypserv(1M) NIS server process from answering NIS name service requests. A Denial of Service (DoS) may occur as clients currently bound to the NIS server may experience hangs or slow performance. Users may no longer be able to log in on affected NIS clients.

…is actually causing the server to die on its own. That’s right: we traded a potential DoS, instigated by users, for one that apparently triggers itself.
Now, this doesn’t cause an issue for Solaris clients; their NIS client software is intelligent enough to detect whether an NIS server process is running on a certain server and fail over to an alternate if said NIS server ever dies. RedHat’s (and perhaps other Linuxes’ – I don’t know because I haven’t tested other distros) NIS client isn’t this intelligent. Apparently, RH’s NIS setup uses `ping` to determine whether a server is still alive, which means that an NIS server process could die and, as long as the server hardware stayed active, Linux clients would continue to try to bind to a non-functional server, thus triggering a DoS on multiple systems. RH’s NIS client also uses `ping` to determine which NIS server to bind to; it functionally ignores the order set by DHCP servers and/or /etc/yp.conf and binds to whichever server provides the lowest latency.
All of this would be immaterial, but for one critical point: our primary server is connected into our network via a fiber optic gigabit link, while our secondary server runs on a gigabit copper link. To this point, copper networking equipment tends to have lower latencies than its fiber equivalents, which means that, you guessed it, our Linux clients were all persistently binding to the “slave” NIS server, regardless of its actual ability to serve up directory information. Thus, when the NIS processes would die on the “slave”, all of our stupid RedHat boxes would freeze, waiting for directory service on the part of a non-funcional box whose only claim to fame at the time was a functioning NIC.
Needless to say, we backed that patch out and, of course, everything’s happy again in Linux Land. Hooray for cascading failures!

H2Oh No!

I was sitting in a meeting this afternoon when a rather vicious line of thunderstorms moved in, complete with torrential downpours and large bolts of lightning. About 20 minutes into the meeting, lightning apparently hit a power substation somewhere near my office, rendering the power feed to our building inert and thus leaving us all in the dark. I reveled in the possibility of the meeting being cut short (’twas not to be – paper and pens were dragged out and “brainstorming” mode was engaged) until it struck me: I think I left my car windows cracked this morning.
I’m terrified to go down to the parking lot. I’m really not looking forward to driving home on a sopping car seat.
UPDATE: You guessed it – I left the windows cracked and thus drove the whole way home with a very wet rear end.