November 17, 2018

Amazingly enough, I’m still alive.



My plans for 2018 were derailed right from the start. The year more or less began with a project at work to move everything into the cloud, using a provider that none of us wanted to touch with a ten foot pole. That started just after my last post, and we’re still dealing with the aftermath; it has been far worse than even we could have imagined. And we can imagine a lot.

Microsoft Azure: Just Say No.

Seriously, if you’re a Linux shop? Don’t do this to yourself. It’s slow. The I/O capacity of anything even remotely inexpensive (or less than 1TB in size) well and truly sucks. It can take ten minutes or more at times just to destroy a virtual machine. Bringing one up is, ironically, a bit faster than that – but still snail slow.

It’s also unreliable.

No, really: their VM hosts routinely crash. We have around a thousand virtual machines, and we tend to randomly lose at least a few each week (though the last few weeks haven’t been as bad) due to host failures on Microsoft’s side of the fence. This isn’t us screwing up; this is their underlying servers crashing, or rebooting, or whatever. I really should run a report and see if this is happening more frequently on Patch Tuesday…

Oh, and did I mention that they arbitrarily rate limit SYN packets on their network INTERNALLY? I hope you don’t need to make frequent TCP connections for any reason, or you’re just plain hosed. I figure it’s their way of making you pay for their load balancer product instead of running haproxy or something.

And that’s to say nothing of the fact they nickle-and-dime you to death far worse than Amazon ever has…

The book I’m writing on Why I Will Never Use Azure Again If I Even Remotely Have Any Say In The Matter™ just keeps getting longer, and longer, and longer…

So yeah, that’s not been fun, and it kinda soured me on doing anything that felt even remotely technical in my spare time. I’ve mostly been sitting around reading. Sometimes, you just have to get away.

Add on to that the fact that I had family move here from California (I feel like the Pied Piper out here), which saw the four of them staying in my guest room for a month while waiting for their stuff to arrive (wonderful, but tiring), with more family on the way to the third coast very soon… Yeah, it’s been a busy 2018.

And now you know why it’s been so quiet ‘round here.

Did you get ANYTHING done?!

Amazingly enough, I did get a few things done – but let’s talk about stuff I’ve already said I want to do:

Custom Home Automation System

Nope. I’ve tinkered, and worked on a few of the underlying components needed (including implementing most of an HTTP/2 compliant web server library in C++), but nothing that looks like a product yet, let alone a finished one.

Get Some Sensors!


Post A Lot More

Uh… Yeah… See above?

Install More Z-Wave Hardware

Now THIS I managed to finally get done. More HomeSeer gear got stuffed in the walls all over the place. I think I have exactly one switch that has yet to be converted, and that’s the fan switch in my office. The fan in question needs replacing, which is why that hasn’t gotten done yet. There’s just no point.

Having Z-Waved All The Things has been great, though. Just being able to use the scene control features on the HomeSeer switches is amazing. You want a button on your bedroom light switch to turn off everything in the house? No problem!

Wire The Rest of the House For Ethernet

I fished a couple of cables for one more room, and also ran some to the ceiling where I mounted my new wireless access point. Does that count?

Home Improvement Stuff

Uh…. I actually did finally get my workshop together, just a couple of weeks ago actually (hence the additional ethernet drop). That project… deserves a post all its own. That will come as soon as I have the time to write it.


There were a lot of other little things that got done – who knows, I might even talk about a few at some point. But really, it was nothing like what was supposed to happen this year.

Oh well.

A Friend To Remember

I wasn’t really in the mood to mention this the last couple of times I posted, but at the end of 2017 I lost my best friend. He wandered randomly into my life (literally!) back in ‘03 or thereabouts, but the years finally caught up with him.

He was the best pet I’ve ever had.

I’ve been very slow to find a new companion to keep me company, but I am at least looking now. We’ll see how long that takes; Denny was irreplaceable, and I’d like to find one at least as special.

So What’s Next?

Well, with even a little bit of luck, I won’t find myself having to change the name of the blog to “Reasons Why I Don’t Have Time To Blog This Year.” Maybe.

I hope.

I do have things to talk about, and projects in the wings, and I just went to all the trouble of updating this thing (and fixing a few bugs). I even gave in finally and enabled SSL, which I’ve been resisting until now. It would suck to do all that work and not actually write!

On the other hand, I’m not expecting much before the new year. I’ve got family coming in for a week surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday; I’ll have family here over Christmas; and I have to travel at the end of the month (not work related, fortunately, but not vacation either). I’m going to be busy.

I’ll do what I can – and I’ll cross my fingers and hope that 2019 is a bit more accommodating.

But then, my parents will probably move here in 2019, and that will take more time, so we’ll just have to see what happens…