Wednesday, August 20, 2014

an open letter to the time warner churn specialist that will probably be calling me


You haven't called me yet, but since I've put in the disconnect order for my cable service I'm pretty you're going to try for that last minute save that's part of the Time Warner customer experience of not actually solving issues until they become problems that are so annoying people are ready to leave.  Since I've already told the story to several different reps it'll save some time if I just post a recap here.

I'm basically one of your preferred revenue streams.  I'm one of the idiots who doesn't call up and threaten to leave every 3 months just so you'll give me another 3 month discount.  I've been shoveling over full price for your service for about 4 years now, and the only time I've ever called support was to report an outage.  I'd also be happy to continue on just handing over full price for the service and not tying up any of your support reps except for the small matter that I have decided to move.

I understand that this should be a relatively easy process and you'd be happy to schedule an appointment for me.  The problem is, I already scheduled one for this past Monday for the insanely wide window of 8am to 12pm.  I made the appointment through a 3rd party (that would be AllConnect) last Wednesday and was told that my Monday appointment was set with Tuesday as a backup.  I scheduled this transfer ahead of time because I'm at a point where I absolutely need internet connectivity at home and I can't really afford to be offline for a day.

Somewhere between the time the appointment was set and Monday morning, someone changed the date of the install order to Wednesday morning and failed to get the message to me.  I spent 4 hours sitting in a barren apartment waiting for a tech that was never going to show up.  At 12pm, I called up AllConnect to find out what the deal was, and when I finally got in touch with their "Time Warner guy" and was informed that I'd wasted 4 hours for nothing and would need to plan on spending another 4 hours waiting again on Wednesday, I got kind of grumpy.  I told him I was pretty dissatisfied and said that I wanted AllConnect removed from this transaction:  his response was to cancel the install service that was scheduled for Wednesday.

I contacted the "Time Warner concierge" assigned to my apartment complex to see if there was any way to salvage the wasted time and maybe get the transfer expedited.  No dice, and now the best they could do was an install on the following Monday.

At this point, I pretty much said to forget about it and just resigned myself to using a 4G LTE phone tether for access.  It means I'm losing Netflix and Youtube, but at the very least I can still get work done from home in emergencies.

I then ended up calling on Tuesday to schedule my disconnect.  The last rep I spoke with gave me some false hope that the transfer might be accomplished by simply having me move the modem and scheduling a technician to come out and "remove the trap from the line", but after sitting on hold for an hour I was informed that that wasn't an option after all and I had to be on site for another 4 hour window... next Wednesday.  This is the point where I gave up on you guys completely and noped out.


When you call to ask me what you can do to keep me as a customer, my answer is going to be "It's the one thing you can't do."  All I want is to get online in my new apartment, right now.  Knocking $30/mo off my rate isn't that useful for me.  I really, really needed for this to happen on Monday, and if I'm forced to rough it with a phone tether for the next week then you guys have basically demonstrated I can survive the busiest point of my year without your service and there's no need for me to keep giving you money just so I can watch a few videos.  On top of that, having me take another 4 hours out of work or sleep (the only 2 things on my schedule... and this screed is coming out of the sleep side for the record) is something I can't accept no matter how good of a deal it is for you.

If you could have someone at my door in a 30 minute window to do 5 minutes of work today, I'd be satisfied.  No discounts, no free months.  Just get me setup without all the pointless waiting and let me get back to being another silent revenue stream.

We both know it's an impossible request, but sadly that's about the only solution that works for me at this point.

So that's where we're at, and that's why I'm done.  Please don't bother to apologize because everyone that I've talked to has said they're sorry but hasn't actually been able to do anything helpful.  I don't really care how this happened, what the chain of events were that lead up to it, or why I don't have service... again, assigning blame to the Other Department doesn't help me out at all.

Just take the modem back and remember the good times when I wasn't making unreasonable demands and you weren't completely wrecking my program.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

[achievement unlocked] installed openstack on a fedora rc1 release

My new workstation finally arrived today, so I got to finally ditch the laptop and move to something with a little less play in the keyboard and a slightly larger screen.  Most of the other devs opted to use their budget on pretty Macs, but I dumped mine into a whitebox with a lot of storage and RAM.  The primary reason was that I need to run a bunch of VMs, and my plan was to try and get OpenStack (grizzly) running on so I could replicate (or maybe just approximate) our production environment.  I went over to the RedHat's RDO project site since they've done a pretty decent job of making deployment easy and bundling everything together.

The weak point in my plan was an insane idea to use Fedora 19rc1 as the host OS.  If you're thinking about doing something similiar, stick with the latest stable release of your distro.  There were a bunch of small gotchas due to bugs/changes in 19 that the openstack stuff just didn't handle (stuff like the fact that packages called "mysql" are gone in Fedora now and are replaced by either "mariadb" or "community-mysql"... which the puppet classes don't know about yet, missing sysconfig files for qemu-kvm, etc).  Getting the install required a bunch of tweaking of config files and re-running the installer, but in the end I got it working.

Worse yet, some kind souls had documented their similar adventures, but some of the problems had been fixed since they wrote it.  Some helpful hints I ran across:

I'd also suggest finding an RPM for openstack-packstack-2013.1.1-0.7 or later and rebuilding that from the SRPM rather than using the one provided by the yum repo (think it was 2013.1.-0.3).  There's a small problem in the switch_keyring code that's fixed in newer versions.  I ended up using 0.24.dev660.

Also, skip the nagios install with --install-nagios=n.  I used mariadb for my database, and ended up having to tell packstack to use localhost for my mysql_host.

Finally, a word about packstack itself.  This is really just a python program (class) that can run on most of the major distros.  I'd suggest looking into it if you're thinking about installing on a Debian/Ubuntu system as it really does ease and automate a lot of the installation process.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

my new job and why I think it's cool

I've been pretty quiet since mid-May, and the reason for that has been that I've started a new job.  I'm working for a start up called True Ability, and the 2 second pitch is "We provide a flight simulator for hiring technical talent."

The "Oh, I got your attention" pitch is that we do technical skills assessment by providing candidates with a series of tasks to complete in a virtual server.  It's basically a break-fix test on a VPS that allows non-technical people to gauge the ability of a potential hire.  Our ultimate goal is to get rid of the process of weeding through resumes and help recruiters narrow their search down to qualified, interested candidates as well as allow qualified and interested candidates to escape from getting weeded out for non-technical reasons.  Right now we're pretty much focusing on Linux administration, but should be moving into other areas in the not too distant future... I'm pretty excited to start expanding our offering.

The company itself is unbelievable.  It's one of those rare times you find awesome people with a truly complimentary mix of skills and expertise with a worthy goal and a clear roadmap to achieve it.  My job title is ostensibly "Linux Engineer", but in reality I'm working on the automation code for breaking the servers and evaluating the candidates' solution.  It's a funky hybrid role doing software development, but requiring a pretty good system administration base... kind of devops but without the drag of on-call duty. \o/

If you'd like to know more, hit us up.  The site's mainly geared for the recruiter types now, but we're planning on doing some cool stuff for the technical folks in the future.

And if you're wondering why I think this is a big deal, read on.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


I figure it's time to finally get back to writing posts about nerd stuff, and so I'll start with adventures in openstack.

Friday, February 22, 2013

aerobic training

H'ok.  We all remember the PE class schpiel about max heart rate (MHR) and target heart rate (THR).  Turns out that sports science has advanced enough that there's a more detailed theory about what range we should be trying reach to achieve certain results.

And if you're a fatboy like me and have been punishing yourself on a treadmill wondering why you're not seeing any gains AT ALL, then you're probably doing what I'm doing: training like you were an 18 year old athlete instead of a 40ish computer nerd.  Or to put it another way, pushing way too hard.

Here's what I've learned and how I'm planning on changing up my workouts to see if it makes a difference... more words after the jump.

that's more like it

So this past week, the workout has changed a little bit more.. but the big news is that I am now losing weight after the workouts (the trick is not backsliding over the weekend or by "justifying" Bad Food).  I think I've finally finished putting on whatever new muscle was coming.

I ended up pushing to 2K in swimming last Thursday, and it pretty much wiped me out.  The pool was closed Friday and Monday, and since I was still feeling burned out on Monday I skipped the heavy bag, too.

Starting Tuesday, the workout was basically just 2K swimming.  75% freestyle (no backstroke), the rest breast stroke.  I did take short 2 breath breaks in between laps (25m), but only one 30s break at 1.5km and a couple of breaks just long enough to stretch out my shoulders at 700m and 1600m.  Finish it up by treading water for 2 minutes to cool down.  I'm swimming about 1.8K in 1 hour, so 2K is about 1:10.

At night, I'd do 2 sessions of Bas Rutten's 2 minute boxing CD (around 30 minutes) just to keep working on the shoulder and leg strength.

Repeated that for Wednesday and Thursday, pool closed today.  So I did some bag work for about 45 mins, then swung by the gym for 3x8 powerlifts at roughly the same weight I'd left off at back in December (bench was down 20 and leg press was down 100lbs due being tired and having been out of the gym so long).  I gave myself around 30s between lifts, and rotated through BP->LP->Military Press-> back to BP.

Considering taking an hour long Basic Bag class tommorrow, and maybe sticking around for a KM class.

End result is that despite eating quite a bit more than normal, I'm down 6lbs and at my low point when just dieting.  Unlike weight loss with dieting, though, this weight will come back quickly... and it's easy to "justify" a trip to Shipleys with "I'm about to do an hour of swimming".  Even drinking Gatorade/Powerade will wreck the weight loss for the day... been sticking to strictly water in the workouts.

Post swimming lunch has been a couple of double cheeseburgers from McD's and a bacon ranch salad (no chicken), and dinner has been a couple of double Whataburger Jr.'s (toss the bun).  Not exactly healthy, but it seems to be working.

Depressingly, my performance hasn't been improving noticeably during these past few weeks of high intensity exercise, and like I said weight loss just ain't happening (although I chalk that up to muscle gains).  Even flat-out full speed, my time for 100m in the pool is at best 2:15s (which is absolutely poor) and started off at 2:20s.  I've been doing some research on aerobic training that is counterintuitive to what I was expecting and I'll go over that in the next post.

But I'm still happy with the progress made thus far.

Monday, February 4, 2013

slowly getting there

Feel pretty good about today's workout:

1 hour swimming (1.6K)
 * for the first 1K:
  - tried to keep it at least 75% freestyle/front crawl (sub backstroke if I'm sucking down too much water)
  - breast stroke the other 25% if shoulders are tuckering out
  - it's ok to stop every 150m, but no longer than 10s (3 deep breaths)
 * last bit
  - 50% front crawl, 50% breast stroke
  - no set distance.. just shoot for whatever you can get until the hour is up

20 minutes footwork
* warmup laps
* 3x10 pushups and situps
* shadow box for 3 mins
* "tour the gym" once in fight stance... start at front left corner: walk back, to your right, forward, then left along edge of gym
* 2x "tour the gym" with 10lb dumbbells in each hand at guard position.. 1 min breaks (keep moving)
* 3x10 straight punches w/weights (work on keeping guard hand up and in the right spot!).. 1 min breaks between
* 1x10 punches w/o weights, make sure you use good form, then stretch out

1 hour heavy bag
* five sets of 5x10 straight punch
  - each arm does 5 subsets of 10 punches
  - focus on speed and form, not so much on power
  - keep hands in guard position, even during breaks
  - should take around a minute
  - 1 minute break in between... walk/jog

* 5x15 of two-fers
 - switch lead hand on each set
 - left+right = 1 rep
 - chop feet, try for power and KO on 2nd punch
 - should take around 15s... 30s breaks

* 5x15 four-fers
- switch lead hand on each set
- left+right+left+right = 1 rep
- chop feet, try for both speed and power
- should take around 30s... 1m breaks

* 5x15 3bows
- switch lead hand on each set
- left+right+left+right elbow
- try to put a crease in the bag with the elbow
- both speed and power
- should be around 30s... 1m breaks

* 3x10 front kicks
- 10 with each leg = 1 set
- defensive kick... use whole foot to hit bag
- focus on form (knee up to cock it, then snap it forward)... keep balance and work on foot position
- work on getting power from popping the hips
- 30s break between each set

* 5 sets of 20 second flurries
- front punch as fast and hard as you can for 20s
- break 20s, then back into it
- it's ok for the punches to get really weak... just keep going like your life depended on it

My big goal for the next week is to start shortening the break times some more (ie, no break is longer than the punching time) and then maybe work on increasing reps.