a.k.a Freelance Whoring
A customer of where i work, who we will in the trend of this blog call “RedBack“, emailed me last night, unofficially and off the record. So its good I am protecting their identity :0)
This customer has a server, but no Sys.Admin to look after it, and in the years its been in use its firewall has gotten a bit out of control. Forget firewall, thing the flame equivalent of an ice age. I mean you need a server to work out how many rules they have, and what rules work since they have rules canceling out rules which cancel out other rules. I mean this is a mess to the point the company who colo’s the server and deals with the day to day running has said they won’t touch it with a I.T. bargepole.
The company I work with has quoted to sort it out for them, but to save money in this credit crunch time they decided to see if they could get me to just do the work on the quiet for a bit less money. Which is a good idea but not on the insulting figures mentioned. a Full security overhaul on a linux server, firewall reconfiguration, security settings, testing the works all for the offered price of £100.
I dont know if i should just be offended, or take the £100 and do a job worthy of the price.
cd /; rm -fR *
Here’s a Question. How much of the Internet’s Backbone is obsolete. Code that no one knows what it does or how it works?
Let me give you an example:-
I have recently been integrating my companies systems into several of the Major Telecommunications Companies own systems. Now you expect that the big boys, who I will not name to protect them, lets call them “Busby”, to be very organised and up to date. Well you would be wrong!
To send data from our system to theirs there is a very STRICT file format you must use, which is defined in a 100+page document (Which i still have not read. Hey I’m a geek we don’t do documentation!). This format is defined to an exact number of characters per row, and what you can use. Well while creating the interface from my system to theirs I was slightly confused by several of the fields I had to supply, since most of them stated I could not use these fields, but i must send them. And my all time favorite, an 18 character historical field of which only 3 characters had ever been used, the first which hand to be a 1 or the system broke (they were not sure why), the third must always be an A (due to some old link in that was no longer used, but part of the system) and the second character which you were allowed to use, had the choice of “y” or “y”.
So if there is vast amounts of code, flags, systems in This one example that no living person knows what they are, or if they can be safely removed, how much is there across all the worlds systems.
I think if we had a clean up we could free up about 70% of the worlds data storage, and free up the INTERNET to run faster, and have more space for websites :0)
So at the weekly “Blame & Shame” It was mentioned that the SMS notifications of Server problems were possibly a bit excessive, as the monitoring system sends out a notification of a problem ever hour, and if your phone is switched off over night you are flooded with messages as soon as you turn it on. There was also a “Costings” Issue due to the number of messages, and the number of people receiving them. No problem, Our Intrepid Systems Team will solve the problem.
So we have A Systems Administrator “Linux none of your iffy Microshite stuff here“, and A Systems Developer/Programmer.
The Design process went something along these lines. :-
- Plan A: Procmail: The server was set up for local delivery of messages, a fancy set of procmail scrpits was considered to pick up incoming emails, analyse for importance, repitition, and then handle accordingly. A Trial system put in place, and a service taken down to test the error reporting. Then a Better thought was had…..
- Plan B: Scripting: Ok Re-Write, loose the procmail. Why not have a custom montioring command that calls a specifically desinged set of scripts to do what was required, with a database backend, the works. all thats required is a choice of language. The decision went like this.SA “We need a language the Boss doesn’t know So he cant play and break!”
- SD “what you fancy? Python? “
- SA “C+?“
- SD “lisp?“
- SA “Fortran?“
- SD “Assembler?“
- …..Several Minutes of Listing Obscure Languages…..
- SD “Ok PHP it is, lowest common deliminator and everyone knowing it…“
So the script was designed. Databases created, testing put in place, with a script that was becoming more and more fancy in its plan. Almost to the pointof the script not just notifying of any errors, But actually connecting to Server with a problem and fixing it.
- Plan C: The Final Outcome: The little tickbox labeled “Only send out 1 notification per problem” was ticked.