All posts by Keith Garner

In lieu of flowers…

This week, our network engineer unexpectedly passed away.  It’s been a rough week for all of the IT department as we deal with it.

To inform the rest of the company, Jason, his manager, wrote something for our internal daily newsletter. Anticipating the requests for where to send flowers or other remembrances, Jason wrote something that everyone agrees is exactly what our friend would want and I think deserves to be shared with a larger audience:

Kyle often shunned typical traditions and so after talking amongst his friends and loved ones, in lieu of flowers or donations we think he would have liked it if everyone would generate a strong password and change it regularly for any critical accounts, personal or professional. I know it sounds odd, but he would have smiled at the thought.

Rest in peace, Kyle.  Well played, sir.

Quick Stowe, VT area recommendations

A few weeks ago, I spent some time in Stowe, VT for work. I went out a few days early with Sarah for a quick mini-vacation. This morning one of my co-workers sent me e-mail asking for brewery and restaurant recommendations. As long as I typed it up for him, I thought I’d repost it here. (We also stopped at two wineries, but since I wasn’t asked, I didn’t write. That might be a future post.)

Beer

  • The Alchemist Brewery – Stop in for a taster. They only make one beer, Heady Topper, but its currently rated 100% on Beer Advocate and it was damn damn good. I wish I could get it in IL. He might be able to find some around Stowe too, but they can barely keep up with demand and appear to make sure they have some in the home office for tasters.
  • Rock Art Brewery – This is also a good place to stop for a tasting, and you can taste multiple beers here. The big thing to buy while there is a bottle of their wheat beer that has maple syrup in it. They don’t sell it out of VT and its really good. Sadly, they can only sell you one taster. I briefly met the owners and they were cool people. Also, watch the videos on their webpage, they are hysterical. Here’s a shot of my taster:Taster at the Rock Art Brewery
  • We were staying at the Trapp Family Lodge, which has the Trapp Lager Brewery as part of it. Over the time we were there, I had one of each type they make. They were okay, the Dunkel was definitely my favorite.

http://www.vermontbrewers.com/ is an excellent resource too and has a map of like 30+ breweries in vermont. If you think you’ll hit more than 4 breweries in vermont, you should really do the passport program that’s on the site. I wish I had found out about it at the start of my trip rather than the last day.

Restaurants

  • Crop Bistro & Brewery – this will get you a brewery AND a farm to table restaurant. Food and beer were pretty good. It’s fairly low key, and the bar in the dining room is gorgeous. They are known for their fried pickles and, having eaten them, its for good reason.
  • Michael’s on the Hill – farm to table and chef owned. This was our “let’s have a really nice dinner because we have no kids” and it totally delivered. I did the “Gold Menu” and Sarah did the “Platinum Menu” and everything we ate was awesome. My dessert of “House Preserved Strawberry Milk Shake with Chocolate Ganache Donuts” was unbelievable.

If you had to pick only one, and you don’t mind the higher cost, I’d go to Michael’s On The Hill. If we had gone there our first free night, we would have gone back the second night. We’ll definitely be back if we ever make it to the area.

And so it begins…

I was doing some work trying to debug a 7 year old computer that was dying. I was in the process of shuffling hard drives around and 9-year-old Dinah was watching me. I was pointing out various components (RAM, CPU, hard drives, etc) and explaining what they are and how they work at a high level.

I asked her if she had any questions. She thought about it for a bit, and then she asked, “Dad, do you have a social life.”

It was all I could do to not laugh and make her feel bad. Although, later I think she figured out what she said and tried to cover it with “I don’t even know what a social life is.”

The Tribune liked my photo (and so can you!)

The Tribune social media folks have been doing photo challenges/call outs where the winner for the week ends up being their banner on Facebook.  The challenge for March is “green.” I entered the first of my photos that I thought of when thinking about green.

I do not have the Facebooks, but if you do, you can see the image can see the image and like it and stuff. It was also a Photo of the Day back when I was doing that in 2011.

suburban lion

HOWTO: Leave non-shitty voicemail

I’ve been receiving a fair amount of voicemail at work from sales jagbags that are of the form “Hey, this is Jagbag from JB Inc, I’ve got a couple of questions for you, so if you could call me back at 555-DICKBAG, I’d appreciate it.” I will never return this call. It’s not that its from a sales guy or that its a cold call, although that adds to the likelihood that I’ll delete it with prejudice. It’s the vague “I have a few questions for you.” Give me some specifics for a reason to call to you.

Its not just sales people, I receive voicemail from people in my organization with “call me back” and no other content.  That might be my biggest pet peeve.

How to leave a good voicemail:

  1. Tell me as specifically as possible what the content of our phone call would be if I called you back. I can be prepared when I call. I can send you e-mail with supplementary information before I call.  Help me help you.
  2. Leave when you might be available or unavailable. Let’s not play phone tag.
  3. If you are a sales person, remind me when we (or my company) did business together. I can look at past notes to refresh my memory. (See also #1.)
  4. Let me know if there is any urgency or the consequences of me taking too long to respond so I can prioritize with the rest of my day.
  5. If you are calling me with a problem, let me know what you have already tried to do to resolve the issue.  (Again, see also #1.)
  6. Leave your e-mail address if you don’t know if I have it already. There may be some answers that come better via text.
  7. If for whatever reason the content is inappropriate to leave on voice mail, say something like “I would prefer to say nothing else about it at this time as its inappropriate to leave in voicemail.”

Those 7 cover my biggest pet peeves… I’m sure there are more we could easily add.

quick and dirty dns lint

I run a DNS server that I and a lot of my friends use. The problem with it being “free” and being between friends is sometimes people forget to tell you if they have switched DNS serving arrangements or just haven’t kept the registration.  I wrote a quick and dirty script, thanks to the whois ruby gem, to check to see if all the domains listed in Bind9‘s named.conf are still registered and if so do they still have our nameserver listed as one of the nameservers.  g0ff asked me for a copy, so I thought it might be useful to share with others.

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require 'rubygems'
require 'whois'
 
zones = Array.new
ZONE_RE = /^zone "(\w+.\w+)" in/
File.open(ARGV[0]) do |f|
  f.each_line do |line|
    md = ZONE_RE.match(line.chomp)
    zones << md[1] unless md.nil?
  end
end
 
NS_RE = /^#{ARGV[1]}$/i
 
zones.each do |zone|
  c = Whois::Client.new
 
  begin
    domain = c.query(zone)
 
    if domain.registered?
      if domain.nameservers.detect { |ns| !NS_RE.match(ns.name).nil? }.nil?
        puts "#{domain.domain} doesn't seem to have us as a dns server"
      end
    else
      puts "#{zone} doesn't appear to be registered"
    end
  rescue Whois::ResponseIsThrottled
    sleep 120
    c = Whois::Client.new
    retry
  end
end