Jrwz.net is James R. Williams Zavada


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And this just in...

Here's the part of my site where I get to tell you what I've been up to, what I'm currently doing, what I may be into down the pike, or anything I might feel like expressing in a somewhat public fashion. If you see something here and have questions or thoughts that you'd like to communicate to me, you can use my contact form or look up my contact info here.

Note that dates and times for posts are listed using the U.S. Eastern Standard time zone, and times are listed in 24-hour format (e.g. 7:04AM is 07:04, 7:19PM is 19:19, etc.).


Google's Diminishing Greatness as a Search Engine

I don't like Google futzing with the search engine home page. The folks there seem to be doing that a lot lately, and it's ticking me off! The latest change has been especially annoying. It's some kind of instant search that fades in while you're entering search terms. Today I got fed up and decided to tell the folks at Google that I'm getting tired of their shenanigans. I found their feedback page and sent them my complaint:


New Projects

Although I've not found a new job yet, I've been keeping busy. In addition to looking for work (of course!), I've been working on various computer projects:

- I replaced a previously-created Linux embedded system with OpenBSD. It acts as my LAN's internal DNS, DHCP and NTP server. I originally came up with the idea to create some more-reliable NTP servers for iContact. One of the problems I had with using OpenBSD for this type of system is that OpenBSD's ability to edit ramdisk contents appears to rely on a custom kernel recompile. However, the OpenBSD maintainers will only support the stock kernels. I cooked up a unique innovation that implements a RAMdisk-based system without altering the standard OpenBSD kernel one bit. I'll post the details here.

Layed Off!

Hmm, I guess I'm doing somewhat better at keeping this up to date, being an entire year hasn't gone by yet since my last post. :) Quite a bit has happened though, so I really need to catch up here. On the 8th of this past December, I was laid off at iContact, along with three other guys from the same work group, all of us on the same day. The layoff consisted of three Sysadmins (including me), a Senior and a Junior Database Admin, and a Database Engineer. They kept the Junior DBA and the most-recently-hired Sysadmin, and let the rest of us go. In November they had laid off one of the IT group guys, and they later let another one of them go in January, from a group that had grown to a total of seven people. As I write this it occurs to me at eight out of thirteen people, that is more than half of the two groups laid off from iContact in less than three months time!

More "Year in Review" (2007-2009)

Hmm, more than a year has gone by, with nary a post here. Not good. I'll have to try harder. To bring you up to speed, here's another “year in review”:

The job at Opsware “went south” on me. Technologically speaking, it was a cool gig, especially at first. I was to be Tier II support, helping sysadmins use our product, and to fix problems. The game plan as it was pitched to me was was that I'd get to delve into the inner workings of the product to solve difficult problems, and help find and fix bugs. I was told that I would never have to answer phones, rather, I would be initiating any phone/remote-desktop interactions that might be necessary. However, all too soon (August 2007) the Tier I group was dissolved to merge with the Tier II group. We were told that the support heirarchy was being re-organised temporarily so that we could better train the Tier I group and to create a “Tier 0” call center, and that us Tier II folks would only have to man the phones for a month or two. But we found ourselves becoming the typical support droids, responsible for answering phones, opening tickets, handling first contact with angry customers, etc. It was not only demoralizing, it became extremely difficult to work the Tier II problems. The constant interruption of answering the phones and having to make “ticket status update” calls, along with handling numerous Tier I issues made it almost impossible to give the Tier II problems proper attention, so our case load kept increasing. My job turned into a mind-numbing, ticket juggling, customer appeasement, socio-political nightmare rather than the technical investigation, research and analysis that I had signed on for.

Love is...

As I've mentioned elsewhere on this site, my wife has mandated that I not post details about her and my son. So to comply with her order, I've censored the previous posts and will be more careful with what I write from now on. Consider it an active demonstration of my love for her, as I'm carrying out the request in spite of how totally bogus I think it is.


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