Posts Tagged ‘Sysadmins’

Friendfeed Sysadmin Room, Twhirl FF support, and Pretend-Sysadmins

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

So not long after I complained that there where so few System Administerors on the social media scene, Friendfeed introduces “Rooms” and immediately Adnan takes the initiative and makes a Sysadmin Room.

The uptake was pretty damn fast, probably partly due to Adnans blog being part of the Planetsysadmin collective. (why am I not on there yet?! )

So, lets hope admins posts “adminy” and interesting there. Adnan and me are off to a good start, at least.

Meanwhile, I realised I now had a treasure trove of Sysadmins to add to Twitter, which has been a really succesfull strategy so far.

I was immediately struck my a number of things though. Why is it, that I wanted to follow these guys on Twitter, and not just solely on Friendfeed, where they already where?

Well the awnser to that is very very simple: Twhirl. Or more to the point, their completely crappy implementation of Friendfreed support, at least at the moment.

I am reffering mostly to the lack of any kind of filtering, the fact that FF and Twitter are still two seperate streams, double Twitter posts, and the lack of FF comment collapsing/expanding.

But to get back to my original action, the adding of the Sysadmins, as it turns out, many people that added themselves to the Sysadmin Room, turn out not to be Sysadmins at all. Rather any are developers, or web-entrepeneurs. At least that is how they discribe themselves on Twitter. I have filtered who I add to Twitter accordingly 😉

Sysadmins on Twitter, lack of groups and Seesmic issues

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

So I have been trying to find and add other System Adminitrators on both Twitter and Friendfeed.

I am a bit picky though. I looked for people that seemed to Tweet at least some of the time about their work, tweeted regularly, and in English. Also preffering Windows Sysadmins over Unix for now, but I might reconsidder that.

So far the results have been good, and with results I mean that I can get little conversations going about tech stuff.

What I would love to see happen at some point, is a discussion where multiple of these guys get involved. Its not grown to that level yet, and I am not sure if Twitter lends itself well for that, as the dicussion is public and all your follows get to “enjoy” it.

This brings me to current BIGGEST annoyance about Twitter and Friendfeed (and Seesmic, to an extent)  The total lack of any kind of groups feature.

Now it would be nice if Twitter supported groups, and made that stuff available via the API so clients like Twhirl can use it. But to be honest, Twhirl and Alertthingy could just as easily build in group support themselves.

That would have the added advantage of applying to any other service they choose to support. I already suggested this to Howard Baines of Alertthingy, and he found the idea “interesting” but its not high on the to-do list.

With groups, you could, at the very least, sort your “friends” into groups of your choosing, adding a powerfull filter to the lifestream that comes in.

Conversely, if Twitter itself supported this, perhaps it would be possbile to Tweet to just the members of a particular group. This would solve the above problem of irrelevant tweets being recieved by followers that might not be interested in the subjet.

It would make the experience overall more valuable and encourage more discussion.

Seesmic currntly suffers from the same problem. There they have the added issue of the focus of content flow still being mainly about the main public feed of all videos people post.

This is a leftover from whem the Seesmic community was very new and very small, but that is eroding now as the service gains users and the public feed becomes inpossible to follow.

However, many people there, especially of the old gard,  still feel the need to “discuss” any and all videos crossing the public stream. This might well include any video I post that is directed at Sysadmins.

Its has been my fear of spamming these people and getting low-quality feedback from them, that prevents me from using the service much currently.

However, this is changing very fast with the brilliant move by them to produce blog plugins that allow video commenting. My blog, as well as big ones like Techcrunch now support these, even though they are not used much yet.

It was interesting to note that they deliberately are not including the comment videos in the Seesmic public feed. But they are including all the blog posts that people make, using the same plugins.

This is quickly going to make the main public feed unfollowable, much like Twitter, and I considder this a good thing.

Like Twitter, the faster the usage model of Seesmic changed to revolve around you and your own followers, and those who you follow, the faster the update will be.

The reason this is not happening already is because the user base is still too small, and the service is still closed alpha. I cant, for example, find even as much as 5 of the people I follow on Twitter and Friendfeed on there.

Once they open up to public beta, the influx should quickly re-arange the usage and then I will be using it a lot more.

Now to convince all the already aloof Sysadmins to start recording video of themselves…   lol .. thats a differnt problem alltogether 😉

Where are all the Sysadmins?

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

I posted the following post on The Server Room forum at Ars Technica


Hi all,

Maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough, but I get the distinct impression that sysadmins, for some reason, are not very community-oriented.

If you look online for developer communities, you find a fantastic amount of forums, websites, and blogging communities.

When I wanted to start blogging about my sysadmin adventures, I looked for communities similar to developer sites like, Channel9, However, I couldn’t find any kind of hub that revolved around systems administration in a similar way.

We just seem a bit under-represented online, imo.

I want to find places I can converse and chat with fellow sysadmins, besides, obviously forums like these (which rock, btw).

For example, I did a search on Twitter and found a whole bunch of people that described themselves as sysadmins. Now those are exactly the kind of people I would like to follow on Twitter.

Similarly with Flickr, there are a number of small groups that deal with sysadmin and datacenter stuff, and I regularly contribute to those groups, but there are not many people there.

Another thing I would really love to see, is a good IRC community in this space. Again, perhaps there already is one that people here know of, I just haven’t found it yet.

What constantly suprises me, is how, whenever I find some kind of sysadmin community “hub”, the way collaboration is encouraged is incredibly old-school. For example mailing lists, or usenet groups. Now I am not saying there is anything wrong with that, but I hardly find anything in the web2.0 scene at all. Have a look on Facebook, how many large sysadmin groups do you find there for example? Twitter? Friendfeed? I would really love to have a few more sysadmins on Friendfeed! We appear to be under-represented online, and very fragmented.

So lets get connected! I will list some of the resources/communities I have found, I hope you will add your own. What I am trying to collect is a list of active community hubs. I will update this post with the links people add.

Ars Technica – The Server Room
Sysadmin Talk Forums

Social Networks:
Flickr – Systems Administrators Pool
Flickr – Rackmonkeys Pool

LOPSA – the League of professional system administrators
SAGE – The Usenix Special Interest Group for Sysadmins
LISA – ( Large Installation System Administration ) Conference, organised anually by Usenix/SAGE

Podcast – Casting from the Server Room


I am secretly hoping the post will get stickied or something. Regardless, it gave me the idea to build it out more. I can add these links to my sysadmin blog. But it also reminded me I really need a Wiki or something, that would be even better.

Damnit, time to start migrated over to some proper hosting. Come to think of it, I need a new WordPress theme too!

So much to learn, so little time… and my week at DSM

Friday, August 20th, 2004

Just finished a week of ad-hoc patch management at DSM again.

Its amazing to me that a company that needs to be as secure as DSM, would allow so many of their mission-criticle pc’s to go completely unmanaged, and thus unpatchedm and un-backuped.

This time round, used my proxy account to update most of the pc’s via Windows update. Its slower than the CD I used previously, but certainly more reliable.

Also on the Windows update front, Windows XP Service Pack 2 has now started being distributed via Windows update to XP Pro users, thought they have capped downloads, to prevent their servers dying (its an 80mb download!).

I was somewhat suprised to learn about Microsoft delaying this update because it wanted to give companies time to stop the service pack auto-downloading to their clients, or giving them time to test it. I mean..  I have been running the Release Candidate 2 of SP2 for over 2 months now.. the first beta came out in March or so..  you would think that companies would be prepared.

Well of course, some will be, no doubt.

But it just annoys me that their are apparently so many admins out there, that seem to be completely ignorrent of what is going on out there in IT land. I see admins like this via my work all the time, admins that just seem to be completely uninterested in the most basic things they should be keeping tabs on; Software/anti-virus updates, security threats, end-user experience, actually using IT to meet business needs, new developments, integration and collaboration, etc…etc…etc.

I often think about being at a company as an in-house admin, and wondering if I will actually do all that I preach, (or at least try to do when I am at a customer), or turn out like all those kind of admins.. so ‘settled’ in my job and position, so lazy and comfortable, that I end up not really caring about any IT outside my own shappy network that I can’t be bothered to get working right..

Its an image that genuinly discusts me, and its a strong motivation to stay in the outsourcing scene.

On a similair strain of thought, and taking into considderation that I will have another week of study ahead, as my employer doesnt have a new job for me, I have been contemplating my knowlegde and skillset when it comes to IT. There are really a few things, technologies I mean,  that I feel I must get to grips with sooner rather than later, in order to ‘advance’ to the next level of what I can do.

I am going to list some of those subjects here.. and why I feel they are important.

Visual Basic Scripting.

The more I get into complex administrative tasks, the more I see a genuine need for me to become proficiant at scripting. I put down VB here, because it seems to me to be becoming the most widely used scripting language out there in the admin field, and in that regard, overtaking Kix, at least, this is my impression based on what I am seeing on clients networks. Also the support base for VB script is absolutely massive, and Microsoft puts a lot of effort and resources into selling it as the defacto scripting language for Windows, even though I have heard that there are other very good scripting languages out there, such as Perl. Now I have been contemplating getting into VB script for a while now, but just never had the willpower to actually get down and DO it..  (a common problem for me). However, I did purchase these two titles, and I am still looking forward to getting down and dirty with them:
Microsoft® Windows® Scripting Self-Paced Learning Guide
Microsoft® Windows® 2000 Scripting Guide

A good, fundamental knowledge of VBScript, and by association technologies like WMI and ADSI, are going to make my life a hell of a lot easier as I become more involved in bigger, active directory-based networks.

Public Key Infrastructures (PKI)
Now I will actually come across this quite extensivly in the third module of my MCSE (if I ever get passed the dreaded second module). The reason I mention this technology in particular, is because it represents a very cool security solution, that can encompass basicly anything you wish to authenticate or secure in an IT enviroment. A great example I would really love to get to implement, is a two-factor authentication system for a large company, where people dont have to remember long and strong passwords, that they are going to write down any way, but where all they need is their card (and of course, for ease of use, this would be the same card they use to enter the building/pay for lunch/idenify themselves with, and a simple pincode. Two-factor authentication: Something you have, (the card, actually the digital certificate), and something you know (the pincode). Its truly the best of both worlds; easy and hassle-free for users, and more secure than just passwords. Its been around for many years now in one form or another, but its amazing to me that it hasn’t been picked up by major companies yet.. they would have so much to gain. The only client of ours I have seen using it is Shell, but it was shabby and ad-hoc, and not standard or common.

Now in order to achieve all this, you would need a PKI, where you can generate certificates, and load them onto users cards. Of course to login, they would require a cardreader. But if you used a card that could also store other information in a seperate aea, then tadaaaa, you have a great alternative  for the floppy drive, and this would help justify the costs as well. They must be companies out there than offer cards or systems based on combining all these technologies and requirements.. I know that at least the technology is getting a boost by all those pc manufactureres stucking USB ports on the front of desktops, instead of just the back. It makes that hardware part of Two-Factor so much easier to deal with.

Of course, most of us know Public Key Infrastructures and certificats from browsing secured sites, where globally trusted Certificate Authorities gurantee the validity of certificates given to you by secures sites. But certificates can also be used to sign software. Think of that.. You have have a requirement as an IT department, that any line-of-business software produces for your company, is digitally signed. Securing software distribution and instalation using certificates helps insure that only approved software can be run on your network! I mean.. way cool! Its just a really exiting technology to me, and I dont know near enough about it!

Web design and publishing
To me this is a no-brainer. No selft respecting sysadmin should be content with being totally ignorrent of websites, web-design, web-based applications, web-services, etc.
Now I am not chanting that every sysadmin become and web-dev, I just recognize that we are moving more and more to an IT world, where the line between classical system administration, web development and database administration is becoming increasingly blurred.

As a sysadmin on Windows, knowledge of IIS, and by extention web-technologies like ASP, .NET, ADO, SOAP, HTTPS, etc. is a must. We as admins are being asked to support ever more comple web-based scenarious, and we need to be familiar with this field.. very familiar.

Oke, I am tired of typing for now.. Perhaps more in a later post.