Thursday, June 25, 2009


You would think, given my previous blog post, that I would be doing my best to avoid adding to my frustration level, wouldn't you? If you do think that you clearly do not know me at all.


At work, the next part of the project is to install a new piece into the already vastly complex and complicated puzzle that this client laughingly calls their E-Business environment. This is the kind of thing that I love. I get great satisfaction from installing new software and making it work. So what's the problem? Well. To do the job right on new hardware, did I mention that we need new hardware even though we have about half of HP's server output for the last three years already? I exaggerate, but we already have 26 Linux servers. 26! And who knows how many NT boxes? I certainly don't. And this is not a Fortune 100 company!

Back to the plot.

To do the job right on new hardware it is normal to obtain said hardware several weeks before it will be deployed into Production, so that it can "burn in". Normal is the operative word in that sentence. Needless to say, that is not the way it's going to be. The new hardware is supposed to be on the dock today, racked and powered tomorrow, and the OS installed next week -- if the temporary System Admin can spare the time ( the one that was on permanent staff left three months ago and hasn't been replaced.) I've been given three days to install the new part of the software. Three days is not enough. But as my protestations fell on deaf ears; that is the way it will be. So as I don't like to make a complete pratt of myself in front of an audience, I went out at the weekend and bought myself a cheap 64-bit PC so that I could practice the install and shake out the problems. And that's just fine. I don't mind that at all.

Brought the new PC home and immediately installed Oracle's version of Linux 4 Update 8 and all was fine… until… until I tried to install Oracle's Virtualization software. The idea was to create two Virtual Machines on my new Linux 64 bit computer so I could emulate the exact environment I'll be using in two weeks. I've struggled for 4 days with it and every day is worse than the last. So now I've given up with that idea and I'm going to install the database and part of the application on 64-bit and the rest of the application on one of my 32-bit computers and link them through my tiny LAN. The really annoying thing is that I could have done this days ago, instead of grinding my teeth and wasting all this time.

And still I haven't written a single new word on Project Tevan. I could have tried to do that instead of pouring out this blather. But at least when I blog I'm writing something other than soul-destroying technical documentation with a blow-by-blow account of what I did which is what I have to do every day. And that is good enough for now.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Is there Viagra for writers yet?

For the longest time now I have been -- suffering is not the right word but I don't know a better one -- from what I can only describe as writing impotence. I have the desire to write. I have the drive to write. Ideas are humming and scenes keep playing themselves out in my head. But I can't seem to get the mechanics to work for me. I haven't even been able to blog and that's not exactly the most difficult thing in the world, now is it?. It's been driving me crazy. I've thought about it. I've tried ignoring it. And now I think I know why. Frustration.

When I first decided to write a book in 2006 the words leapt from my fingers, and yes, most of them were complete dross and everyone knows what happened to that story, but nonetheless it was huge fun and hard work and a joy. And at the same time I was happy and fulfilled at work too. Not overly busy, but that was because I had the systems I supported (payroll as it happens and you know how people do like to be paid on time) tied down so tight they squeaked. I was the only DBA supporting them and, as such, I needed to be sure I didn't get caught wrong-footed or called in the middle of the night unless it was an emergency that could not be foreseen. Things changed and I acquired a team of really nice, hard-working guys in India and I shared the workload that was increasing to a point where I couldn't handle it by myself and life was good and busy and I rewrote the original book and was happy and fulfilled. Even when I was editing the second attempt, even though I hate editing with a passion, it was fine.

I picked up other assignments. More work, on the road, busy, busy, busy. Setting up new systems so that they would perform well into the future, helping clients in the short term when they needed additional hands to bring a project to go-live. And then I was assigned to the client I am currently supporting. I love them... well most of them... like family. Great people who work hard and have fun and are a pleasure to work with most of the time.
But their boss, the Director of IT, is so completely inept it makes my skin crawl. He doe NOT want to hear bad news. Does not want to know what can go wrong and how it can be averted. Does not want to hear that things are not and have not been done correctly, and most definitely does not want anything done to correct those past errors. He even pays people to fix the issues they have created and pays them over and over and over again as they mess things up even more. It drives me to distraction and my frustration level is off the charts and getting worse.

That is what is killing my writing. I recognised it over the weekend. I sat for a long time on the screen porch and just stared at the trees and though about what was different now compared to three years ago. And there it was.Frustration at work. There are some frustrations going on in my personal life too that I should have blogged about but haven't. I will. Now that I've written this I think... I hope... that I've broken the barrier. I don't think I'll be able to get back to Project Tevan today nor even tomorrow, but if I'm blogging there's a very good chance that I'll be able to pick up the story again and run with it.

So pass me a glass of water; I need to swallow my little blue pill and get on with what needs to be done.