My Cascadia IT Conference 2012 Schedule!

As I have announced on various venues, I am attending the Cascadia IT Conference 2012 held in Seattle, WA on March 23 and 24.

I’ve decided on the following track for myself:

In deciding on my schedule, my priorities were The Limoncelli Test and Automating System Administration with CfEngine 3, I built everything else around that. These were priorities as I am currently pursuing significant interest in cfengine and I believe I will be able to take something useful back to work from The Limoncelli Test right away. In retrospect, perhaps I could have selected Customer Service (Don Crawley) over Time Management for System Administrators as I have read the book but alas never applied it fully (only selectively). Either appears highly useful and engaging.

As primarily a Linux sysadmin, I was rather interested in Root Cause Analysis (Stuart Kendrick), Sysadmin Basics: Power editing with vi (Aleksey Tsalolikhin), Central Logging (Leon Towns-von Stauber), Advanced Topics in Puppet (Garrett Honeycutt) and IPv6  (Owen Delong) but one just can’t attend everything and I made the hard choices. Ganeti just happened to fit in well.

While not immediately eye-catching, perhaps Power Shell Fundamentals (Steven Murawski) would have been a good choice as I will soon be dealing with more Windows. Yet another thing I know I’m bad at but isn’t immediately important is my resume. Perhaps Technical Resume Writing (Nadine Miller) would have been a good idea? And though I’m not a networking guy, I could stand to use wireshark more effectively thus Deep Packet Inspection using Wireshark Using Open Source Tools to Troubleshoot your Network (Mike Pennacchi). While not directly applicable to my job, How to make Wireless Work in a Conference Setting (David Lang) does sound intellectually interesting. Physics!

I look forward to meeting and engaging with my fellow LOPSA members, hopefully over some amazing PNW beer! I’m not usually the first to strike up conversations with unfamiliar faces but this is such a grand opportunity to make an effort and be rewarded.

Bring it on!

Swag: The Pens Never Work

My experience is a little limited in this regard, but I’ve received three notable fairly nice looking, heavy and comfortable swag pens in my life as a sysadmin: IBM, Microsoft and Atempo.

So why is it that none of these pens actually work as a pen? The Microsoft and Atempo pens have what appear to be normal, decent quality cartridges and the IBM pen has a super average cartridge but none of them are able to place a solid a line of ink on a clean piece a paper.

The IBM pen also sports a stylus, LED flashlight and laser pointer and all of those functions work properly… so why can’t the pen function also work? Because it’s a swag pen, that’s why.

“The pens never work.” -rthomson

Microsoft Nomenclature

My friend just linked me to an amazing example of Microsoft nomenclature that he came across while diagnosing a boot problem on his Windows 7 PC. The phrase “WTF?” comes to mind.


System Volume
The system volume refers to the disk volume that contains the hardware-specific files that are needed to start Windows, such as Ntldr, Boot.ini, and

On computers that are running the Intel x86 line of CPU processors and later versions, the system volume must be a primary volume that is marked as active. This requirement can be fulfilled on any drive on the computer that the system BIOS searches when the operating system starts.

The system volume can be the same volume as the boot volume. However, this configuration is not required.


Boot volume
The boot volume refers to the disk volume that contains the Windows operating system files and the supporting files. By default, the Windows operating system files are in the WINDOWS folder, and the supporting files are in the WINDOWS\System32 folder.

The boot volume can be the same volume as the system volume. However, this configuration is not required.

There is only one system volume. However, there is one boot volume for each operating system in a multiboot system.

So… the “system volume” is the volume that contains the boot files and the “boot volume” is the volume that contains the system files. It might have been opposite day when this was named. Yikes.

Thanks for the laugh, Microsoft.