Carcosa Corp 2.0

Been at the new office a week. And I am of mixed opinions. It's a nice building, nice office space. My cube is fairly big, and while it doesn't have full height walls, it's still fairly private. Sadly, voices carry, so I hear the neighbors (a bunch of devs I don't know) more than I'd like. It's also overly warm IMHO, I guess the powers that be that control the thermostat are lizard people. My fellow IT folks are nearby, fellow admin is across the row, and the desktop guy is one row over and further back. I'm at the front of my row, so people walk by me all day, which is distracting as I see movement, and look up. Guess I need to slouch a bit more so I don't see them. There's a bunch of restaurants near by, and a good Half Price Books. I also got to meet one of the execs I've dealt with a lot the last few months, got some chitchat in. The people I know are on the other side of the big office area I'm in, but between walkups and IM clients we're still in constant contact. Which is mostly good. We'll see how it works over time.

Brought my craptop over, and my triple monitor setup on a dock. Network is a little slower, especially if I'm doing things on the datacenter network, a few more hops than there was when I was a few floors overhead. Today I setup a test 'developer machine' in my cube. Our devops guy wanted a system he could test from in the new office, vs his own box back in the datacenter. Dell Optiplex, running Fedora (was 28, but I upgraded to 30 today). In theory it's going to just sit in my cube if anyone needs to see what's up with the developer network, in practice if I end up working in the office a good deal, I'll move it so it's the primary box and just not 'tell anyone'. (32 gigs of RAM and not Windows would make up for a lot of the commute.) We'll see. I did manage to name it 'hyades', our test dev boxes are named after constellations, and well, a star cluster is just a constellation mushed together. The devops guy is a Lovecraft fan (one of my converts), and I think he got the joke. At some point this weekend I'll log in from home, and push some scripts and files over to it. (Via VPN, no we're not insane). Not much in the way of decorations in the new cube, since I'm probably going to work remote more often than not, it's probably for the best.

Now, the big problem of the moment. The commute sucks. Morning isn't so bad, if I leave at 8:30, I'll be there at 9:00, assuming traffic doesn't snarl. But coming home is pretty crappy from 4pm til after 6pm. And it's the drive home that I really appreciated the 10 minute commute. But in 6 months or so, in theory we'll be done with the datacenter. And I'll be ready to move, so the pseudo-plan is to move north, assuming working from home 4 days out of 5 works for me. Which it should, unless I end up feeling too hermited. I really don't know, as is often I can see both sides. Next week I'll be about half and half, and we'll see what works from there.

So, it's more or less alright. Some things are better, some things are not. I'm just going to keep on going, adjust things and see how it goes. On that note though, it's time for this fox to head to book and bed. Night all.

Liber est vitae!

Or for those who don't speak dead languages, the book is the life. Aka, the new Vulpine family motto, something I threw out while arguing with myself. I do that some time. But that's not the subject of this post. I thought I'd skip talking about life in general, and talk something specific I love... namely books.

So yeah, if you've known me longer than about 48 hours, you know I love reading, and I love books in general. I always have a book (or 5) I'm reading, my wind down before bed is almost always reading for a period of time. And when I need a pick me up, I'll go book shopping, either online or at a brick and mortar bookstore. Most of my reading right now is done on my Kindle Voyage e-reader, technology allows me to carry a multi-thousand book library in my back pocket. But I also still enjoy the tactile feel of paper books, and the enjoyment of owning and organizing them, along with reading them. (there's also audiobooks, but that's for another post). So how do I decide the format when I buy a book? Well, what is it ? If I don't collect the genre/series/author, I usually get it on ebook. Mostly due to the simple fact of space, I only have so much shelf space. So I tend to only buy dead tree books of my favorite genres/authors. So, scifi/fantasy, mysteries, general fiction, most horror, most history, I'll probably only get in ebook. Cheaper usually, easier to carry, etc. But, if the genre is in my wheelhouse, then I tend to get dead tree (and usually an ebook as well).

So, the wheelhouse. a term I steal from the Reading Glasses Podcast (I recommend the podcast if you're any kind of book fan) is specific types of books that are my favorite interests. I'll read just about anything if it catches my interest, and if I'm stuck somewhere, I'll read stuff that has no interest because...reading. But there are specific things that I specifically gravitate towards. The list is (ATM):

  • Lovecraftian/Cthulhu Mythos/Weird/Cosmic fiction.
  • Gothic and occult horror, especially set in Victorian/Edwardian times.
  • Ancient history (Greco-Roman and Mesopotamian topping the list) (both as non-fiction and fiction)
  • Occult/Esoterica/"alternative beliefs"
  • Nautical history
  • Authors I know or at least 'know' online
  • and a fundamental axiom: the Templars have something to do with everything.

    I have tons of these books, I have bookshelves dedicated to these (almost 9 six-foot tall bookcases full of #1). I haunt Amazon keyword searches, I pre-order from a ton of specialty publishers (and make friends with them), and when I go to a used bookstore I have a specific routine as I check the various locations of my 'wheelhouse' books. Even if it's not great, I'll get books as a completist.

    Now how do I get my books ? Well that depends. Do I want a specific title? Do I want it now? Then I hit Amazon, followed up by Ebay and other search sites, and order the specific book. If it's a small press, I'll order from them (support your small business pals). That's about 50% of my book acquisitions. The other half? Used book stores. I love the random hunt, the idea that just around the shelf is a book that will light up my life. Or that I'll find something I never knew I needed, and get to get my mitts on it. I do this pretty much only with used bookstores in the 'local area'. (I've driven multiple hours across the wastelands of Texas to visit used bookstores) And when I travel out of state, there needs to be a visit to a local used or independent bookstore, or it's a dull trip. Keep in mind when I go to used book stores I'm rarely looking for a specific book, I'm looking for authors, titles that flag something of my interests, etc. Otherwise you're looking for a needle in a variably ordered haystack.

    So, now that I got the books in my tentacles, how do I read ? Number one way is in bed, propped up on pillows. Usually on my Kindle, just because it's light and easy to move around without losing my place or bending pages by accident. But lately I've been reading physical books more often, I setup a cheap desk I picked up online with a bookstand, a lamp and a chair. (and a bunch of knickknacks that I decorate everything with). It's a different vibe to reading, especially when the apartment lights are turned low, and I have some music playing in the background. (creepy music for creepy stuff so far). Gives me that feeling of a throwback to read in a Victorian/Edwardian library ala Arthur Machen or M.R. James.

    So that's me rambling on at length about my favorite subject, books. First time in a while I've gone to this length on something besides brainmeats. Maybe I'll do it more often.

  • Say Hello to Byatis

    I replaced my media player system with a new computer. Shoggoth has worked pretty well over the last few years, but it's been struggling more and more with larger files/bluray encoded files. Since it's a Intel Celeron 1.5 ghz CPU, it's not surprising. So a couple of weeks ago, Woot.com had a deal on a Lenovo M93P Tiny Desktop. Dual core Intel i5, 8 gigs of RAM, and a 128g SSD. So faster drive and a lot more CPU. (same RAM, but I can add another 8 gig stick if needed). So I finally felt up to moving hardware around today. Got everything wired up, well other than using a wireless keyboard and mouse to talk to Byatis. Installed Ubuntu MATE 18.10 (yes the same version I had headaches with upgrading Dagon. But a media system has a lot less moving parts, and other than a couple of goofs requiring a reinstall, the install went smooth. Setup the usual things, big thing was to get VLC installed and tested. There's a few quirks with controlling VLC, but nothing I can't adapt to. Or I can find something to tweak to make it simpler. We'll see.

    So here you go, the building of my new media server, Byatis. Oh, if you don't recognize the name, Wikipedia has you covered.

    State of the fox: brainmeats and hard drives

    Been having a rough time of it lately. Mood drops, anxiety, lack of focus, all mixing to cause a 'perfect storm' of meh. Lots of Mom memories, both from the time she fell, and things went south fast, and when she got pneumonia, which was what ended up killing her. It's hard to not remember all the bad things, all the stress. I need to stop though, I'm just messing up my head. Mom wouldn't want me upset or frazzled over her. *sigh* I don't know what's the fix though. I've tried ignoring it, I've pondering it, I've tried book therapy, I've hung out with friends, I've hermitted. *shrug* Maybe getting it out on a blog post will help? We'll see.

    Besides emotional mess time, I've joined the hardware NAS people. I picked up a Synology DS1517 5 bay NAS, which I loaded with 4 8 terabyte drives in a RAID 6. I'm going to use it as my primary multimedia storage location, with it backing up to drives on Dagon and Hydra, along with a 'cloud' backup on Crashplan. I think this will finally cover my paranoia about drive failure. The remaining 5th bay is going to be filled with a 5th 8TB drive, and the array re-striped so I'll have 24 terabytes of storage, that can survive 2 drive failures. (currently I have 16 terabytes with the same 2 drive failure protection). Did I mention some degree of paranoia ? I'm still syncing data over, then I have to rearrange mount points and other stuff.

    So that's my random post that I've been trying to make for a good chunk of a week. My brain hasn't liked me trying to write stuff out. Going to finish this up before I decide to delete it again. Hopefully things will swing up soonish, and April will be less mood foo. Ciao.

    Server Patching from Hell.

    Oh by Dagon's scaly scrotum, tonight's last few server patches were more trouble than all the other servers I've done this round. Nagios upgrade broke our nagios setup, adding hosts in templates and other goofy crap. I was able to fix that without issues, but still some minor stuff is goofy, will be working on that tomorrow. Cacti updated to some rather big change, which the database setup for it could not handle. Rolled that one back (yay listening to the voice in my head saying 'this one is trouble'), or I'd be up half the night teaching myself mysql magic to fix it. I'm calling it done. Going to eat a snack, read a book, and go to bed.

    And if I get called again tonight...well, I won't scream at anyone, but I'll be a tad pointed to the people involved.

    Cthulhu grant me more dreams of fencing, and/or squidgirls, or even the epic dream bookstore I can't seem to find in real life.

    Night hominids.

    “Who’s this ‘Haunter of the Dark’ who keeps calling you ?”

    Random geek post. A few months ago I upgraded my Nexus 5 to the Google Pixel (not the XL). I'd transfered over all the files, and the device's name, NecronomIpod. (cheerfully stolen from Charles Stross). But it didn't feel right, devices have their own personalities, and I generally give their own names. (Yes, I'm weird that way). So, Saturday came around, and I was re-listening to 'The Haunter of the Dark' radio play. I was pondering the magic McGuffin of the story, and thought "It's dialing 'N' for Nyarlathotep!". *bing* I have name. So my phone's new name is 'The Shining Trapezohedron', with shiny new wallpaper from Gage Prentiss' design for the Robert Bloch Award from the NecronomiCon Providence. Nerd, thy name is Vulpine. Now lets see if Calls to Cthulhu have less static, and if calling Yuggoth won't be long distance any more.

    Deep Ones at the Movies – Alien: Covenant

    Back from 'Alien: Covenant'. Quick review, it's not bad. It's not great, it's not spectacular, but if you came for face hugs and chest bursts and general mayhem, you won't be terribly disappointed. Could have used some peppier mid movie foo (kind of dragged), and people would have been just fine if they just stuck to the program, but people making bad decisions = a horror movie. Otherwise, it's a travelogue. 3.5 out of 5 xenomorphs, and I'll be buying it on bluray/dvd when it comes out.

    Can someone help me find my lung?

    It's April Fool's Day. Been caught at least twice, possibly I should just avoid the internets today. Oh well.

    Was kind of a rough week, still feeling puny, work has ramped up my meeting queue, and I've been kind of flailing around trying to get stuff done. Glad it's the weekend though. Today is movie theater day, going to see 'Ghost in the Shell' then 'Life' this evening to celebrate Nymaz spawning day (early, since the poor viking is stuck on call on his actually spawning weekend). There will also be general hangout time, and dinner at a diner we all like by the movie theater. Omelet for days, and maybe even pie.

    Still coughing up shoggoths, still feeling less than good. I'm hoping it's just my lungs clearing with a side of allergies redux. But there may be yet another doctor visit coming up, as this is utterly miserable.

    Otherwise, things are ok. Double-checked vacation approval with my boss's boss. Wasn't 'worried' but I wanted to make sure it was cool up the chain. I also found a reason to adjust my pre-Providence travels. Kirk Hammett, along with being a guitarist, is a major horror collector. So a museum in Salem is doing a exhibit of some of his stuff. And since I'm flying into Boston, I may have to make a side trip up to Salem the day I fly in. (on top of visiting old Ironsides and the Boston Aquarium, maybe driving to the Atlantic shore...) Really, I need to make a separate trip to Boston in the future, lots of things I want/need to see with adult eyes. Oh well, that's what 2018 is for.

    What's up in cultist ville? Books, including finishing the late John Glasby's 'Dark Armageddon' trilogy. The series is about humans trying to survive when the stars come right. It's very Brian Lumleyesque, but I've always liked Glasby's writing. He doesn't reinvent anything, or won't take home the gold in Cthulhu writing, but he does right solid, readable, enjoyable tales that scratch that tentacle itch.

    Also, remember 'Winter Tide? Book freedom day is this Tuesday. It should be in your local brick+mortar stores, as well as findable at your online bookplace of choice, plus there's always I've got the Kindle edition preordered, and I'll be at the local B&N on Tuesday to get my hardback edition. April has a lot of preorders coming out, so it will be a good reading month.

    Also, speaking of Lovecraft, next weekend is the release date for The Void. Lovecraftian film, that has people/shoggoths/mi-go all abuzz. (literally when you mention the later). It will be showing in DFW at one of the Alamo Drafthouses, and I'm looking to go see it on the big screen. (then of course, pick it up on bluray afterwards).

    Ok, that's enough rambling for today. Wish me luck on good movie sign, and feeling better, and I'll ramble later.

    News from Carcosa

    I've posted this on my LJ and other social media, but I can't forget my trusty Deep One blog. A little over 2 weeks ago my boss at Carcosa Corp called me to give me the news, they were going to make me an offer to come on perm where I am. Same duties for the most part, with the addition of being oncall and being responsive to alerts and work outside of core hours. Well today I had a call with the HR rep. Long story short, I accepted the offer. 19 PTO days a year, good benefits, and both a title change (adding a 'Senior' to my title) and the money that goes with it. Went and did the drug screen and filled out the info for my background check. If everything goes according to plan, I'll come on board on December 12th. So happy. So is everyone I work with, I seem to be a popular fellow there. So yeah, things are going swimmingly. Now if only Carcosa Corp would open an office in Innsmouth, I'd be set. *wink*

    Weekend Computer Foo

    And now we talk about computer foo. last night and today has been more geekery than I've done in a while. Dagon's new monitor is much of the shiny. I've switched to using multiple virtual desktops, scattering various apps that I can reach with with key combos. Here are the desktops and what they're used for.

  • Primus: Web browser and terminal windows, with Alpine (mail), CenterIM5 (IM client), one terminal with a screen session linked to every VM and physical box here at Ch√Ęteau Innsmouth, and one for text editing (like this entry).
  • Secondus: Five larger terminal windows in a pattern. Good for sysadmin or coding or stuff. Larger = less eye strain.
  • Teritus: VirtualBox and VMs. This is the problem child, as I start working on a desktop VM, and forget about it with flipping back and forth.
  • Quartus: Misc stuff.

    As I said, it's easy to lose stuff in this setup, but I'm thinking I'll get used to it over time. The new video card in Dagon can support 2 of the big monitors, and I can double up on those cards, so I could upgrade to a 3 monitor rig in the future. Also, Hydra has DP ports as well, so I could split it, 2 on Dagon, 1 on Hydra. Doubt I'll do that anytime soon though, both for cost and the fact the Desk of Doom (tm) isn't sturdy or large enough. So, in the future. Maybe after I pay off the trip to Portland.

    Besides getting things updated and rebooted all the systems. Tried to upgrade Dagon to the latest stable kernel, but no dice, I couldn't make the new monitor play nice, and after 3 or 4 reboots and driver swaps I gave up for now. Hydra and Nyogtha came up fine after general maintenance and reboots, so did the VMs. I then turned my attention to my mini server Shoggoth, which has been offline for a week or so. On advice from my IT guy (yes I have a friend that does most of my hardware foo. I can do it soso, or he can do it right, and he's worth every cent. If you're in DFW, and need a geek, let me know) I popped out the drive, tried to see if it would get past the weird lock. It did. So I put the drive back in, and it booted fine. So I updated it, rebooted, came up fine. So, thinking the SSHD drive in Shoggoth might be flaking, I enabled SMARTD to monitor the drive. So we'll see if it was a fluke or a drive giving up the ghost.

    Now I'm updating the assorted desktop VMs, and fiddling around with other stuff. Been a productive day geekwise. But soon it will be time to wind down and head to bed.