Episode 11: A Holistic Approach to Service Management

I decided to post an episode instead of trying to get a post out. This one talks about a particularly complex problem I am trying to tackle in an integrated way at work.


The tracking of assets, people, and setting of some network security settings based upon those things needs a refresh and I am still struggling with what to do. Here are some links:

Why Certifications

I’m not usually one to champion certifications of any sort. However, I am working through my first professional certification program right now (SUSE’s Certified Linux Administrator) and while it can be a slog (especially at this level), I have come up with some justifications for why certifications exist and why a person might find them beneficial.

TrainingI’m hoping this is what happens when I’m on the higher certifications. Sadly, I probably don’t even consider myself good yet. I just wanted to get an image in there.

Alright, back to what I was talking about:

  • For one thing, a certification can mean more money. I consider this maybe the least of the reasons for myself, but I can’t deny that it is a reason … and sometimes a really good one.
  • It sets a baseline for terminology and understanding within a group of people. This is mainly a benefit when working with others. That could be in the larger community, for support, or just in your own job (if you have coworkers doing the same thing). This one might be primary for me. Getting immersed in the terminology of a community is one benefit.
  • You might just learn something. It might not always be what you expect, but so far I’ve learned some rationale for decisions made within Linux (and SUSE/openSUSE specifically). This is the secondary reason in my case.
  • To set yourself apart … maybe. You’re willing to do the work to get a piece of paper. Essentially this is the “get a college education” reason as well. I’m not sold on it, but it is there.

Those are the four I have right now. It is going to be different for each person, and I have labeled the two which are most important for me, but there are reasons. What other reasons can you think of?

Leave a comment and let’s keep the discussion going!


Fending Off Stagnation

This isn’t another post about how I’m not living up to my plans (I actually did some certification work last night … imagine that), but a longer-term look into the future than just what I am working on right now.

There was a post being tossed around on Twitter recently titled Why your previous developer was terrible, and I recommend that you take a look. It speaks mostly of how a new developer can come into a situation and seem like they have all of the answers because they need to deal only with the current knowns, not with the inherit unknowns of starting a new project.

However, it think it is also a tale of stagnation in some sense. It is easy to get bogged down in the past and present and leave the future to, just that, the future. Solutions you HAVE made in the past tend to stick around longer than they should because … they are a decision we don’t have to make today (and who around us is needing to make fewer decisions).

The prevailing thought from many people is that you shouldn’t stick around the same place for too long so that things don’t stagnate. I can understand that, but I happen to think that there are downsides to the opposite as well … moving around constantly or a constantly shifting group of workers as well. Knowledge is lost. Decisions are having to continually be made over, and over, and over … it can be maddening on the other side as well.

So the question becomes: how can a person fend off stagnation at the place they are at?

That’s the question I want to talk about. Usually they’ll just toss out “move to somewhere else”, but that’s not what I want an answer to. I want to talk about how to fend it off when you are dedicated to staying where you are.

Let’s talk about that.

Pulled Back to Linux

This is a follow-up to my last piece so at least you understand the title better.

I was able to work a little on getting openSUSE setup well-enough that I can use it as my training machine as I work toward some certifications from SUSE. It took a little work and a lot of trial-and-error, but I have a working machine going right now that will serve my needs. Here is how I’ve handled the problems I was having.

  • Pidgin and Google, for whatever reason, do not seem to like it when I set an avatar within Pidgin. That’s an easy-enough fix … I just don’t set an avatar within Pidgin. I would prefer to be able to set one, but I am more interested in having access to Google Talk consistently right now. I might file a bug against this because it is quite annoying.
  • VPN was only a single option away after setting all of the certificates correctly and other settings. Make sure you check the Use this connection only for resources on its network setting within the IPv4 settings of the VPN and things will work a little better. I’m not sure why I missed it in the past.
  • I have Thunderbird setup with my iCloud email so that I am able to check my personal email easily. I did have work’s Google Apps account setup as well, but it was more of a pain (and IMAP + Google is still annoying) so I’ll just use the web interface for that. Not ideal, but it will work.

There really isn’t too much else to it. That will get me by for now. I still need to work out how to apply theme settings to GNOME Terminal, but that is minor.

So I’m back. While I won’t use this Lenovo ThinkPad X220 with openSUSE as my primary machine, I am happy that I have something with a proper CLI to work with again.

Pushed Away from Linux

I do prefer Apple’s hardware and software, but sometimes Linux just pushes me away.

Take tonight for example.

This isn’t a new issue for me, but it is something I had hoped to finally figure out a workaround for this evening, but I just ended up more frustrated. I want to be able to do the following:

  • Connect to a personal Google Talk account (old Gmail account)
  • Connect to my work’s Google Apps account

I try Pidgin because that is what I have had the most success with. This is what I get:

  • Looks like both initially connect but then the personal Gmail account drops with an input/output error
  • Try to reconnect, and the same thing happens … over, and over, and over again

This was happening for both accounts, but work’s account was working tonight. Alright, why not try Empathy. That is built into GNOME so I should be able to use it easily. Here is what happens there:

  • You can log into the accounts in the system panel, but when you go into Empathy it says that my work account is listed as disconnected
  • Try to make self available, and the same thing happens
  • Turn account off and then back on again … same thing

Frustrated, I log into my account on my wife’s MacBook Pro and I have access to everything that I need. This is on top of the issues with our OpenVPN settings I have had for months (with no end in sight). Here are some symptoms:

  • I can connect when I manually pull apart of the certificates and add them separately
  • I can access the internal servers via IP addresses, but I cannot access any outside site
  • Try to set DNS settings so that it works … but no luck

Frustrated, I usually log into my account on my wife’s MacBook Pro and then connect using Tunnelblick and everything is fine with the world.

Neither of these are a deal-breaker, but it is a “death by a thousand cuts” sort of thing. If what I need to do is easier when I use OS X, then I have no incentive to try to learn how to really use the power of Linux on the desktop.

For now, for me, Linux continues to be my server OS of choice.