Tuesday, November 25, 2008

New Job, New House.

I have changed jobs, and moved to a new apartment since my last post. The new apartment is great. It doesn't get too cold at night and it's nice and quiet. The job is nice too. I am a Software Engineer at Cheetahmail.

I was a Sys Admin before at another company. It was a startup, which had its benefits, however there were significant drawbacks. Let's just keep the negative to a minimum by just saying that they ended up wasting a significant amount of my time by misrepresenting the position.

On the other hand, Cheetahmail is quite a different story. It is a pretty mature company. There is a very specific job description. The goals of my employer are in line with my own. My team is very supportive and friendly. The business people that I work with are approachable and friendly. The office atmosphere is jovial at times but things are always serious when the job needs to get done.

This is a great step for me. I have programmed at work before but now I am getting paid to program.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Why I don't switch to Ubuntu

I was about to switch to Ubuntu from Fedora. I really was on my wife's machine I remembered one of the reasons that I stopped liking Ubuntu. Fedora has chkconfig. I can and have installed init scripts on Ubuntu before and it just isn't intuitive. With chkconfig I can turn services on and off.

Ubuntu is great for when you want to use the GUI for everything. In my experience, problems crop up when I start trying to tweak things. For example, if I want to install MySQL with Ubuntu's package manager, it also installs a mysql user that the operating system uses to make sure the database is up and running. I didn't know this until after I had removed the user from a test server at my work and we started getting a cryptic message in the log. I couldn't turn them off I had to remove the script entirely.

I didn't ask for the OS to monitor my databases. The scripts were just there and there was no easily available documentation telling me how to use these monitoring scripts. I understand that Ubuntu is trying to provide a better desktop experience for linux users that don't necessarily want to use the command line. However, as far as I am concerned, If my computer is doing something I didn't ask it to, then it is doing too much.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Parrot, Rakudo and Perl 6

This week I downloaded parrot and subsequently Perl 6. For those of you that don't know. Parrot is a runtime environment for dynamic languages. You can use parrot to write a compiler. Parrot was dreamed up by the same people that were writing Perl 6. Rakudo, which is the perl6 compiler written in Parrot is interesting but not yet production ready.

I tried using rakudo to work through a Perl 6 tutorial that I found but when I tried to get it to accept standard input rakudo puked up a stack trace. So either I am doing something wrong, rakudo isn't ready, or the tutorial is crap.

Anyway, I am excited about Perl 6. Start here to check it out. Perl 6 was conceived by specification. That means that that there can be multiple implementations of Perl 6. As long as it passes a spec test, a Perl 6 compiler will run code correctly. In fact, there is another implementation of Perl 6 started by Audrey Tang.

Perl 6 is about 8 years in the making. It looks like it is in its final development stages. The search for documentation is on . . .

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A message to those looking to move up and out of the help desk

The help desk can be a black hole for your career. If you have taken a help desk job at a start-up and someone uses the phrase: "In this position, you will need to wear many hats" in the interver, then heed my warning. If you are looking to apply the cool Perl knowledge you picked up, or utilize what you have learned the other night when you reached a state of pure technical perfection the instant you fixed that problem with your master boot record on your dual boot machine, then dust off your resume, its time to move to another job. Because, I assure you, your boss, as nice as he/she is doesn't have use for your adventures into programming and system administration and you should be getting paid to do the stuff you are staying up to 3AM to do.

Sure, you could stick it out and hope that possibly you will get that awesome project handed to you by a Senior Systems Administrator, but that is never going to happen. He would rather have you keeping end users out of his/her hair. And why not? As your company is growing they are going to want you to tell end users how to use their printers, and god forbid undo all the viruses that they downloaded, watching whatever young college coeds do when they get curious and there are a couple of barn animals and a midget (sorry small person) in the room.

I suggest you use the time that you are in this purgatory referred to as the help desk to really narrow down the things that you want to focus on. For example, I chose to focus on Linux, MySQL, and Perl. This will make me an awesome LAMP developer. I hone my craft every day. When you are ready, if there isn't a position in your company to move to, get yourself a new job. Because trust me, a good help desk guy/girl is hard to find. And if you are doing a good jobs at the help desk, then unless you make some big moves, they will do what they can to keep you there and away from the big servers where you belong.

Friday, September 19, 2008

How time flies

I started this blog a year ago and then I got these huge ideas about giant 10 page articles. Anyway, everything became way too big and I never got around to posting because I never had time to finish what I was writing. Now I think its time for a different approach. I will write smaller posts that are more to the point.

More to come...