Great Open Positions at Northeastern CCIS

I’ve landed in Los Angeles, and I’m getting settled in temporary housing until I find my own place, but it’s been a really busy couple of weeks, and I just realized that I didn’t get a chance to post about the open positions that my (now former) team has.

First, more obviously, there’s my old position, that of the Networking & Virtualization Administrator. The position is officially posted on Northeastern’s Careers page, but I can tell you that you’d be responsible for a medium-sized relatively flat network infrastructure. There are a few dozen VLANs, all statically routed from the core switches, and around a thousand lit switchports. The hardware is mostly Cisco Catalyst, with the core being Cisco Nexus 5548s, although there are some virtual PFsense boxes running around too.  You would be working with the (pretty friendly and competent) central ITS network admin to coordinate staff and faculty moves around the infrastructure, and with the university’s security officer (who is also surprisingly friendly, given his line of work) whenever something weird pops up.

The role is also responsible for the VMware cluster, which currently consists of around 15 ESXi nodes and two vCenter instances (one for “production” use which has the vSphere Essentials Plus license) and the educational cluster, built out using VMware Academic licenses for classroom and academic use. They’re backed by NetApp and Nimble storage, and it’s this part of the job responsibilities that gives you a little more creativity to solve problems, since professors usually want interesting things. I’ve built some useful stuff in PowerShell, but there’s no reason you have to use that long-term, if you want to solve the problems yourself.

Anyway, I really enjoyed my time in this position, and to be honest, I really miss the other staff members and students there.

In addition, the CCIS staff is growing. We got a new dean a little over a year ago, and one of the things she wants to do is to offer management of researchers’ clusters in a more active manner, so we are looking for another Linux sysadmin (pretty much all of the researchers do work on Linux).

This position will involve a lot working with our current Linux admin to bring over the technology he has built to deal with our “managed” machines to help with our “unmanaged” or “soon to be managed” researcher-owned machines. Basically, there’s nothing like this right now, so you would be inventing the role as you go. Exciting! Challenging! Rewarding!

Anyway, please, if you’re looking for a position in Boston somewhere, take a look at Northeastern. It’s easy to get to, there’s free tuition for you, your spouse, and your children, and I feel like the staff that I worked with there are my family, and I miss them :-)

If you have any questions, please drop me an email and I’ll be happy to help. Thanks!

Ad Astra Per Aspera – Leaving Boston

northeasterneduI really like working at Northeastern University, which is why I’m sad that I’m going to be leaving. On the other hand, life occasionally presents an opportunity to you that can’t ignore. This is one of those occasions.

A few months ago, I was sitting in a small room full of sysadmins planning LISA’15 when I mentioned, almost out of nowhere, that there was one company in the world that I would kill to work at. As luck would have it, my friend sitting next to me said, “Really? Because I know a guy. Want me to email him for you?” and I said, “Um, yes, please. ” Thus a story began that included numerous phone screenings, flying out to Los Angeles, and an all-day array of in-person interviews, the net result being that I am leaving Boston, moving to LA, and going to work…for Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, otherwise known as SpaceX. Yes, THAT SpaceX.



At SpaceX, I’m going to be a Linux System Administrator, and from the sounds of it, I’ll be splitting my time between “normal” infrastructure stuff and helping to define a DevOps role with the Flight Software team who write the software that sends the rocket and Dragon capsule up to the Space Station. It’s…pretty difficult to overstate how excited I am.


I imagine that it will take a while to figure out what I’m allowed to write about, but the whole team was very enthusiastic about my visibility in the SysAdmin space, and they seemed to enjoy my blog and the fact that I took part in the community, so I don’t think anything there will change. I’m just really happy to get the chance to do this, for a company with a mission like SpaceX. It’s an incredible opportunity, and I feel very fortunate.

So here we go, on a brand new adventure. I’m sad to be leaving my friends in Boston, but I’ll be back soon – I mean heck, LISA’16 is in Boston, so it’ll be like a homecoming, right? Until then, the sky is the limit! Keep reading!



Stop Hating Your Work

I love meeting people at SysAdmin events. Having a blog that people read does mean that people have mostly heard all of my best stories, but it’s still fun getting to know new people and hearing what they’ve been working on. The single thing I hear most often is a question, and the question is, “Don’t you sleep?”

Time and time again, people will read my blog, see me making things, or doing things, or organizing, or whatever, and internally, they compare that to what they do, and they feel like they aren’t doing enough, or as much as I am.

Can I let you in on a secret? I feel like I do crap work most of the time. And I compare myself to others, and to their work, and I feel like what I do is often bad, sub-par, and not worthy.

Do you ever see something that just speaks to your soul? I saw a Tweet, of all things, that did that to me last year. Here it is:

The image from that post features the very first Iron Man suit from Tales of Suspense #39 in 1959, which Tony Stark built in a cave, with a box of scraps. It worked…to a point, but it wasn’t long before it got upgraded and replaced. If you’ve seen the first Iron Man
movie starring Robert Downey Jr, then this will all sound pretty familiar, because it was recreated in film.

It feels sort of childish to admit in an open forum like this, but the story of Tony Stark creating Iron Man is actually really inspirational to me. I like making things. I like building, and doing, and I really, really hate just about everything I create. Especially the early stuff, and Tony embodies the concept of continuous development and iterative improvement that are so vital to making things in 2015. So I try to learn from it, and in my spare time, I try to figure out how repulsor beams work on pure electrical charge.

Earlier this year, I decided that I was going to go to Boston Comic Con for the second year in a row. When I checked out the website, I couldn’t believe my eyes – along with the normal array of comics celebs, Boston was going to be playing host to none other than STAN LEE!

If you don’t know the name Stan Lee, you probably know the characters that he’s made – Spiderman, The X-Men, The Incredible Hulk, Daredevil, Thor, and yes, Iron Man. When I saw that Stan Lee was going to be signing autographs, I knew I had to get one, but the only question was…what would I get signed?

I could always go get a relatively rare Iron Man comic and have him sign that. But none of the individual comics meant as much to me as the character itself. What would be perfect is if I could get that picture from Alexis’s picture above signed, but it’s a PNG, and the quality didn’t really lend itself to blowing up. After thinking for a few minutes, I realized, I didn’t have to use the picture above – I could just recreate it. So I did!

It took me a few hours to get it to the point where I thought it would be acceptable, and fittingly, it isn’t perfect, but here’s the final version that I made:

Click the image above to get the full-sized image. If you want to print your own (don’t sell this – Iron Man is the property of Marvel), you can download the EPS in glorious 41MB fashion from this link.

So yesterday, I visited Comic Con, stood in line for hours, and got to (very briefly) meet Stan Lee, who laughed as he signed his name to my new poster:


I actually printed out two versions – one to keep at work, and this signed one, which I’ll keep at home. Both of them will remind me that, even though I’m probably not happy with the state of whatever I’m working on at the moment, I shouldn’t listen to the negative voices in my head telling me to quit because it isn’t good enough. Thanks Stan!

A blog for IT Admins who do everything by an IT Admin who does everything