Pacific Tsunami Alert

A few hours ago, the coastline of Chili suffered an 8.8 magnitude earthquake. This earthquake was powerful enough, and in the right location, to generate a large destructive tsunami. Apparently the Juan Fernandez islands, off the coast, were hit with a large tsunami already, although I seriously doubt the height mentioned in those headlines.

In any event, if you are on the pacific coast, go inland and uphill. It may be for nothing, but it may not be, too. Remember that loss of property is inevitable, but loss of life isn’t. Protect yourself and your family.

Also, know the warning sign of a tsunami. A waterline that recedes quickly means a tsunami is imminent. According to reports from the Boxing Day tsunami, human curiosity drove people to investigate the lowered waterline, which was responsible for many, many deaths. If the waterline recedes rapidly, run away. Run uphill. The reports from Juan Fernandez were of 40 meter waves, which sounds too high, but if that really is the case, that’s around the same height as a 13 story building. Don’t take chances.

Go inland if you’re in the affected area.

NJ/NY/PA/DE Regional Sysadmin Conference

I’ve mentioned the Professional IT Community Conference (PICC) before, but now the fun has really started.

Registration is open and the speakers have been announced!

The cost is low, and the benefits are huge. I know from Google Analytics that this site receives hits from over 500 unique users in the region of this conference, every month. We don’t have that kind of space at the conference. It’s going to sell out at some point, so make sure that you talk to your boss now about attending. We’ve even drafted a letter to help convince them that it’s worth your time and their money.

It isn’t often that you get a local conference with speakers like Tom Limoncelli and David Blank-Edelman, not to mention Eben M Haber from the IBM research lab in Almaden, CA! This conference is going to get you the biggest bang for your buck out there.

What I’d like you to do is to help me get the word out. Please. Not everyone reading this is in the NJ/NY/PA/CT/DE area. For those of you who aren’t, please tell other people. Follow us on twitter at @picconf, email the site ( to anyone you know in the area who might be interested, tell user groups about it, heck, we’ve even got a facebook page that you can become a fan of.

This is absolutely a grass-roots kind of effort. We have a very small advertising budget, so I want to use that as intelligently as possible. That means getting your help for the initial waves, and to spread it by word of mouth, by email, link, tweet, IM, and whatever else you’ve got.

A very big thank you to every one of you out there who reads this blog and supports me. I appreciate all of you.

Devotion to Duty (xkcd)

I get the feeling that this will be making the sysadmin-blog rounds :-)

Today’s XKCD is excellent, and already has a huge following from the sysadmins on twitter.

The alt-text is:

The weird sense of duty really good sysadmins have can border on the sociopathic, but it’s nice to know that it stands between the forces of darkness and your cat blog’s servers.

He’s right, of course. Sysadmins in general can develop a hero complex.

It’s a complex topic, but the smartest people in systems administration today (read: not me) have been vocal that sysadmin heroism should be discouraged. I can agree with that, to a point. We should never rely on heroism to save the day, because that means our designs have failed. When we stop believing in miracles and start relying on them, we have made bad design decisions and the reliability of our network will suffer.

On the other hand, there are sometimes events which happen that are beyond our control, and it’s up to us to make it right. In those cases, there’s no rule or mandate that says “you – sysadmin: go above and beyond the call of duty and be a hero!” I think it’s more our mental alignment that says “It’s my job to make sure that things work. In order to make things work, I’ve got to climb on top of the roof in the middle of a blizzard and restart the generator” (something my boss has done multiple times, and I’m sure some of you have as well). It’s just the way it works. We think logically, if the job needs done, and it’s our job to do it, then we need to do the job. The peripheral variables are unimportant.

I think the comic is hilarious, but like most Mission Impossible / Jack Bauer / Die Hard scenarios, it’s a rare event. Don’t go take ju-jitsu just in case someone cuts your network cables. Have a redundant infrastructure so that it doesn’t matter if they get cut.