Tag Archive for flaw

The Disaster Disaster Recovery Plan

Mushroom CloudOnce upon a time, I worked for a company that put out a mandate of updating our disaster recovery plans.  Seeing as how most of the company didn’t have them, it really meant creating disaster recovery plans.  Due to a confluence of events, I happened to be the senior guy in our department who wasn’t a manager, and so it fell to me to craft our plans.

As with any good company, we did have some preparations in place even if we didn’t have a formal plan.  We had an off site backup data center which we could switch over to should a service at the primary site go offline.  And in that site we had an approximate copy of our primary site.  Approximate in that the intention of the backup site was to limp the company along until the primary site could be restored, not in that the backup could become the new primary.  So where the primary site had 3 servers doing a task, the backup site had 1, enough to do the job but not enough to do it without frustration.

So there began a series of meetings between departments as we began updating and creating our recovery plans, budgets were outlined and all the ducks were put in a row.  In one of these meetings, I noticed a flaw in one of the other department’s plans.  I brought it up, but since I’d only been there a year and was dealing with people who’d been with the company for 5, 10, even 25 years, I was ignored.  I was told, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”  To that end, I decided to be sure I was right.  I began researching the other plans and looking for flaws.

My own department’s plan was simple: money.  We needed to spend the money to duplicate our server functions.  I called the companies we licensed software from and got the okay and licenses to maintain a fail-over site without spending any more money on licenses.  I wrote up hardware orders so that where we had 3 servers doing a task at the primary location we would have 3 servers waiting to take over if the primary failed.  My plan done, I had plenty of time to look at other people’s work.  So I did, and I made a nuisance of myself, sending emails and showing up for meetings I wasn’t invited to in an effort to actually make our company’s disaster recovery capable of recovery.  Eventually, I got told to stop.  The message was clear.  I was to focus on my own plan and leave everyone else alone.

I dove back into my disaster recovery plan.  You see, because of the flaws in the other plans, my original plan wouldn’t work.  It had to be redone.  I went to my boss and made one request.  On presentation day, I wanted to go last.

The day came to show off our new plans.  I sat in the back and waited through each department.  One by one they went to the podium and showed charts and laid out plans that illustrated they were well on their way to being ready, each department patting themselves on the back.  Finally, it was my turn.  I got up and started handing out my plan.  It was very short.  A cover sheet and then just two pieces of paper beneath that.  As I made my way through the room people began muttering to each other.  I got to the podium and said, “If you will turn to page one of the packet I’ve handed out you will clearly see the full extent of my disaster recovery plan.”

It was a copy of my resume.

“If the primary data center were to go offline, I would, in reaction to this disaster, begin sending out copies of my resume in an effort to find another job, because I certainly wouldn’t want to work here anymore.”  I could see my boss turning red with rage.  I could also see the managers for other departments shooting dirty looks at me.  Then I opened up my PowerPoint presentation.  I quickly showed the single page of my real disaster recovery plan: buy servers, install software, use extra license keys I’d already obtained.  Then I showed how my plan would still fail due to a flaw in Department X’s plan.  Then I showed that without fixing another flaw in Department Y’s plan, Departments A, B and C would fail.  And then I showed how Department M had overlooked a critical piece of hardware for which there was no backup and rendered everyone moot because the only working mainframe terminal in the backup site would be the one hooked directly to the mainframe.  Their plan actually had them unhooking a piece of equipment, loading it on a truck, and driving it nearly two thousand miles to the backup site, rather than actually purchasing a duplicate – probably because it was extremely expensive.  “So, as you can clearly see, my only reasonable course of action – since I was instructed not to involve myself in the affairs of other departments – is to find another job.”

The fallout from that meeting was huge.  First, I got yelled at.  Then, I got apologized to as they discovered I was right.  Eventually, new plans were drawn up and big money was spent, but our recovery plan was actually capable of recovering from disaster.  To date, that company has not had a disaster from which recovery was needed, but that’s not the point.  The point is that each and every department concerned themselves only with their own particular areas and no one had been assigned the task of looking at the places where they relied on another department.  Each one was happy to be able to say “We have a back up for our functions” and didn’t bother to examine if slot where their tab was supposed to insert was being covered, they just assumed it was someone else’s responsibility and it would be handled.

Since then, I’ve always tried to make sure I keep an eye on the big picture when I do things.  And I try to be open to suggestions and/or criticism from others on the off-chance that I’ve missed something big because I’m too close to it.  Outside that, there is no point to this story other than I just like to share it.

Digsby

A long time ago, in an apartment far, far away… I was a gaming geek, and other gaming geeks with whom I chatted on IRC were talking about a new instant messaging tool called ICQ.  It was kinda like the instant messaging that AOL had, but you didn’t have to be an AOL user.  I wish I still had my old ICQ#, it was low, and that made me leet… sadly, I forgot the password, had the account set up with an email address I didn’t have access to, and after much pleading with the ICQ guys I gave up and got a new account.  But I barely use ICQ at all anymore.  Over the years, AOL made their IM client available to everyone, Yahoo put one out, and so did Microsoft.  There are more, like Google Talk, X-fire, and most social networking sites have some sort of integrated chat, but I haven’t signed up for most of them.  The real problem was having all that crap installed on your PC.  For years each network was completely separate.  And even now, only a couple of them have linked up to share.  That was why when a friend showed me Trillian, I was extremely excited.

Just think!  All my instant messaging clients wrapped up in one application where I could manage them all!

Trillian has served me well over the years, but a while back they simply stopped going forward.  The developers were pouring all their time into Astra (I’m in the beta), their next multi-IM client, but even it is going forward slowly.  It also doesn’t seem to be expanding on the features of the old program very much.  I’m in the beta, and I’ve been using it… its basically the same thing with a slightly different look and feel.  In fact, really, the only thing that Astra has is a web version that promised to have the same contact and configuration info as your desktop client does so you can get on your IMs from anywhere you can open a browser to their site.

A couple months ago, someone pointed me at Digsby.  I poured through the feature list and got very excited again.  They promised to integrate with MySpace and Facebook and others, they also promised to allow me to manage my email accounts (like hotmail and yahoo) without having to open the webpage if I didn’t want to.  And it delivered… with one tiny flaw.  See, they had this feature that allowed you to alias and merge multiple IM accounts for the same person under one entry, so now I wouldn’t see the same person four times, I’d see them once with four options for chatting.  The flaw was that after moving all my contacts around, when I closed and then re-opened Digsby, all my contacts were gone.

So, I trudged back to Trillian after one glorious day of Digsby.  But now, a few months later, I decided to check up on ol’ Digsby and it turns out they claim to have fixed many of the bugs, including the one I ran into.  I fired up Digsby and it auto-updated to the latest version, and blam! all my contacts!  In fact, all my contacts in the way I had grouped them prior to them vanishing!

It looks like I’m giving Digsby a second chance.  I’m still not uninstalling Trillian/Astra, just in case I need to recover my contacts again, but maybe this time ol’ Digsby will stick.  I hope it does, because I dig all the extra feature, none of which look like they are going to make Astra any time soon.

Urban Dead is dead to me

Ten months ago, I was first introduced to Urban Dead.  A free online game about fighting hordes of the undead and surviving the zombie apocalypse… or so I thought.  About seven months ago, I was excited to be playing the game, casually fighting zombies and barricading myself inside buildings while I slept.  The game wasn’t and isn’t overly graphic, but I was more than capable of filling in the narrative myself.  After getting myself skilled up a bit, four months ago, I decided to create a project for myself in the game, and a week later I had to modify that project due to what had become the glaring flaw in the game’s design.  After I abandoned Munford, I took residence in the Pickford Cinema over in Osmondville…

At this point, I really wish I could say that things took off, the movie theater was made secure, we fortified the doors and beat back the walking dead, slowly spreading out to other theaters and growing a network of safe havens for people to pretend they are watching movies as the undead shamble out in the streets.  I really wish I could.

The major design flaw in Urban Dead is that you, as a survivor, cannot win.  And I don’t mean that in a “this is an MMO with endless grinding, a virtual world, and there will be no ‘You win! The end!’ screen.” sort of way… I mean that in a “There will always be more zombies because you can’t kill them for good because they are not NPCs, they are the other players.” sort of way.

A month we spend inside, making neighboring buildings safe, keeping the free running paths clear.  Trips to the mall for supplies, gas from the gas station to keep the generators running… life was pretty good.  Then a horde of zombies comes through, breaks down all the barricades, kills all the people, and makes a mess.  Now, all us survivors are zombies.  Luckily it doesn’t take too long to wander over to a NecroTech building with a revive point, but it does take nearly three weeks to get all those people revived (it takes 20 action points to make a syringe -but you can search for them and cut that down- and 10 action points to revive someone, after you spend a point DNA scanning them, so that 1 person, even if they already have the syringes, can only revive 4 people a day).  It takes us another two weeks to get all the buildings back in good order, then the zombies come through again…

I don’t want to be a zombie.  Obviously some people do.  But when my game, as a survivor, is actually 75% of the time spent trying to recover from being killed… I would rather lose levels than this.  Especially since I have no say in my deaths at all… they all happen when I’m offline.

I tried.  I really tried.  Its just not worth the frustration.  I play games to be the hero, the guy that “wins”, not to be just another victim.

I’ll still be keeping my eye out for zombie games, and I still desire to make one… but for now, Urban Dead, as far as I’m concerned, is dead.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man`s Chest

Did you like the first one? Yes? Then you should go see this one too.

Pirates of the Caribbean 2 is just as good as the first one, the blend of action and comedy with a few nostalgic bits thrown in for those of us old enough to have seen the Disney ride before they began to overhaul it, but it does have one minor flaw. If you have seen the Back to the Future trilogy of movies then you are well familiar with this flaw. Since they filmed movies 2 and 3 at the same time, there are elements of the second film that are clearly setup for the third. In fact, from a purely story and plot standpoint, number two is not a satisfying film because while the story moves along nothing is really resolved.

But the swordfighting and ship combat is as good as ever. Seeing this movie will leave you itching for the final chapter… which should be along for Memorial Day 2007.

Superman on TV again.

Well, I’m late with this. Its a character flaw.

But last week was the premiere of the new Superman TV show Smallville. And boy was it good.

The last show, live action show that is, Lois & Clark was pretty good when it started. Sure they did some lovey-dovey romance stuff, but they focused mostly on the superhero stuff that we all really want to see. That lasted a season or two, then they did the wedding (the absolute worst TV show in the history of TV shows) and it really started sucking even more after that.

I’m hoping that Smallville doesn’t fall into that trap and keeps a healthy level of action with its drama.

In this incarnation, we are taken back (although they did update it to the present day) to the beginning. Clark Kent is a teenager, a freshman in high school. He knows he’s different, and he hides his super powers. In the first episode, they introduce the Kents, Lana Lang, Lex Luthor, and Kryptonite (which I felt they did in a very cool way). The series looks to focus on Clark coming to grips with his true nature, using his powers for good, all the while just trying to fit in and be like everyone else. Teen angst with super villians.

Rock on.

Smallville comes on the WB network at 9pm on Tuesdays. I strongly recommend checking it out. I give it a 9 out of 10.

23 February 2001

The Devil’s Advocate
In this world, there lies a place for the devil and his advocate.
In my own life I have often played the part of the devil’s advocate in discussions. Sometimes it is done to point someone at a flaw that they do not see. Other times it is done just to force the person to show that they have actually thought of everything.
There are people who are good at being the devil’s advocate. They know when their job is done, or when they simply just aren’t getting through and further arguing is pointless.
Some, however, are not good at it. They turn simple flaw exposing into nay-saying. They extend the argument and drag it out if only to say “It’s not going to work. Can’t you see that?”, even when they no longer can show exactly why.
My patience for nay-sayers is thin.
I admit that sometimes I can be blinded when someone is telling me, and more importantly showing me where my ideas won’t work. But when someone who doesn’t know me at all, and has not bothered to speak to me about the issue goes out in public shouting at the top of his lungs that I am going to fail, it hurts. And when they refuse to listen to me and keep shouting that I will fail, not that I might fail but that failure is a forgone conclusion, I get angry. And as Dr. Banner said to Mr. McGee, “Don’t make me angry, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”
The specific case here is with EverQuest, game that I love. I am finally stepping up and leading a raid of one of the Alternate Planes, The Plane of Air (or Sky). I have spoken to a great many people about this zone, and of all the ways to do it. But in the end I decided that while I would keep their advice in mind, I wanted to actually try the zone from front to back and maybe incorporate a little winging it. See, the major thing is, Verant, the game designers, intended this zone to be done with a team of 24 people. this is evident by the fact that when you clear any part of the zone, you get 24 keys to the next part. Now, people have found ways around this, and it is how most people do their raids. I decided that the first rule of my raids would be to limit it to 24 people. One thing I did require was that I wanted 4 clerics, one for each group. Beyond that, I didn’t care who came, I would just build the groups as best I could and we would give it a wack.
One of the people who signed up then proceeded to tell me that we should cancel it, or kick people out and get other people (people who couldn’t be bothered to volunteer and sign up). I told him no, explained my goals with the raid and invited him not to come should he have problems with those goals.
At this point, I would have expected him to either shut up and come along, or shut up and walk away. Instead he continued to explain to me how I would fail if I didn’t listen to him, all the while neither saying if he was still coming, or leaving. He hinted with a “Maybe I won’t go” kind of line but didn’t say he wouldn’t go.
I’ll be the first to admit, my first responce to him was harsh, but only because instead of talking to me in private, he posted all of his doubts in public (I find this to be a cowardly tactic). But the continued nay-saying, insisting that we would fail pushed.
I hate losing my cool.
In the end, all I can say is that people play this game for many reasons. And there are hundreds of ways to achieve even very similar goals. I acknowledge that in others, and I take offence when they refuse to acknowledge that in me.
sigh
As for EQ in general. Comments from a good friend today coupled with some feelings of my own have lead me to a long awaited decision…
No, I’m not quitting. As long as its fun, I won’t quit. But the time has come to focus both my time inside EQ and without. I’ll pick a few days a week that will be EQ days, and everything else will be up for grabs.
I leave you with this… This Time of Year by Better Than Ezra.
Well, there’s a feeling in the air
Just like a Friday afternoon.
Yeah, you can go there if you want
Though it fades too soon.
So go on, let it be.
If there’s a feeling coming over me,
Seems like it’s always understood this time of year.
Well, I know there’s a reason to change.
Well, I know there’s a time for us.
You think about the good times
And you live with all the bad.
You can feel it in the air,
Feeling right this time of year.
Well, there’s a football in the air,
Across a leaf blown field.
Yeah, and there’s your first car on the road,
And the girl you’d steal.
So go on with yourself
If there’s a feeling that there’s something else.
Seems like it’s always understood
This time of year.
Well, I know there’s a reason to change.
Well, I know there’s a time for us.
You think about the good times
And you live with all the bad.
You can feel it in the air,
Feeling right this time of year.
Well, there’s a feeling in the air
Just like a Friday afternoon.
Yeah, you can go there if you want
Though it fades too soon.
So go on, let it be.
If there’s a feeling coming over me,
Seems like it’s always understood this time of year.
Well, I know there’s a reason to change.
Well, I know there’s a time for us.
You think about the good times
And you live with all the bad.
You can feel it in the air,
Feeling right this time of year.