Sunday, August 31, 2008

My Blog Day

There aren't many anniversaries I celebrate. When it's work-related, I think the only one I care to mention every year is SysAdmin Day. This year, I decided it'll be nice to mention the Blog Day.

The "celebration" instructions are pretty simple: tell your blog visitors about at least 5 blogs you read, so bloggers could get to know each other better. Following is the list I compiled. I'll try it'll be as novel as possible, as I guess most of my blog readers are already familiar with most of the stuff I read (since we have same interests and we are part of the same planet).

  • SysAdmin Tales. Been a sysadmin myself for quite a long time, I know most of the frustrations told about in this blog. Very recommended.
  • Paul Graham Essays. This one is recommended even if one doesn't plan to start a start-up company, as it contains many insights and things to think about when it comes to the software industry.
  • StackoverFlow. This blog was created by Joel Spolsky (joel on software) and Jeff Atwood (coding horror), as part of a common project they started: StackOverflow. I guess most people are familiar with these two blog's (Jeff is making a living from his blog), but stackoverflow adds even some more insights about the creation of computer software, building a commercial web site, starting a company etc. Although this is mainly a podcast, one doesn't have to listen to it, since there are transcripts available.
  • xkcd. Funny (if you're a mathematician or computer scientist). Period.
  • The last one is not a blog (although you can RSS it), but rather a share of Yevgeny's favorite blog posts (via his Google Reader). I think this is the best way to get to know new stuff: becoming a "subscriber" for stuff that somebody else has already filtered for you. Yevgeny is doing good job at this.

Most interestingly, this post made me go through my Google Reader reading list, and made me realize there are many blogs I hadn't been reading for quite a while. Perhaps I should clean it up a little.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Not very long ago I started looking for a job. The searching->finding->getting-interviewed loop, exhausts itself quickly. Since I'm not used to looking for jobs, and I wasn't sure in which particular field I want to work, I decided it'll be a good idea to mass-send my CV. Mass-sending means more than a dozen companies receives your CV in the same time, and then you expect a blitz of phone calls from them.

Among others, I sent my CV to Microsoft (their new R&D center), as I heard so many good things about working there. At this stage, no phone call was made by MS. Few days later, via an alternate route, my CV reached MS the second time. This route probably had higher priority, as I got a phone call the day after. This phone call lead to a series of very interesting (and difficult) interviews, which ended with a job offer. In the mean while (about after the first interview) I got this mail:
Thank you for sending us your CV.

While we are very impressed with your skills and qualifications, we regret to inform you that we don’t have a suitable position for you at the moment.

We will keep your resume on file for any opportunity that may come up in the future.

This mail was regarding the first time I sent them my CV.

So what we have? Me sending my CV to the same place twice. While the second time got me interviewed, the first one got me (a gentle) "we don't want you" letter. More important, these events happened in parallel. How does this makes sense? Different recruiters (small department so small chance)? Does getting your CV via different persons gets different attitude? Perhaps, but that doesn't sound good. So it must be some kind of schizophrenia...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Interesting bug solution

Every once in a while I get to thinking "hmmm... what shall I write in my blog? I don't have any muse right now, but I want to write about something". To my surprise, each time that happens, I accidentally find an interesting topic, which is derived from things I stumble upon while surfing the internet.

Last week I've been configuring my not-very-powerful laptop, so it'll be able to remotely connect both my Windows and my Ubuntu. The Ubuntu connection is done via freenx server, while the Windows connection is done through Terminal Services. Actually, I'm writing these lines from a TS session. Most of the time I'm quite happy with this setup. I have full access to my desktop, I can work concurrently with my girlfriend (which is using the desktop, and which I taught the magic ways of using Ubuntu), and I can sit wherever I want, as the data is being encrypted over SSH over my wireless network.

Not all went clear, and both freenx and Terminal Services has some major bugs. The freenx bugs were solved after a short google search, and after hitting the "connect" button enough times (so the Ubuntu realized I'm serious about my intentions to connect). Terminal Services gave me a much harder time. It appears that if you own a powerful nvidia or ATI graphics card, and you work with high-res, TS won't work. This can be solved with some tweaking of the Windows registry, and messing with kernel parameters (what the hell does this have to do with being able to use TS?).

Now, I have a new syndrom: every once in a while Windows decides this is a good time to reboot after a DCOM server crash occurs. This is quite annoying, and I haven't found a good solution for that, yet. In the mean while, I type quickly 'shutdown -a' to abort the annoying reboots, afterwards I restart the DCOM service and the TS service, and everything is back to normal. Awkward.

Me saying I don't have a good solution is only partially true, as I found this web page describing my problem. For some reason, it exists only in the google-cache (I don't know how much longer it'll be there), so I'll quote the solution part:
I have put Ubuntu on a second partition and that solved my problem for
now. I still can access my files from the first partition and it
doesn't reboot randomly.
Thanks for all your help!

Interesting! Installing Ubuntu solved the reboot issues. How come I didn't think about it.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Acquiring System privileges under Windows

At some occasions, while using a relatively recent version of Microsoft Windows (I'll refer XP and above, but 2000 might also work), it is required to acquire System privileges (aka LocalSystem). This might happen for malicious purposes, but also legitimate reasons exist, such as finding a bug in a service which runs under LocalSystem. At such occasions, one would like to get a terminal (cmd) that runs as LocalSystem.

Of course, one cannot login using LocalSystem, since it is not meant to be logged-in with. But this is not a reason to despair. Actually, opening a cmd under LocalSystem is quite easy:
open a cmd (using the currently logged-on user) and type:
at 00:00 /interactive "cmd"
This will create a new scheduled task, which will never run, and would open a new cmd using LocalSystem. Now, all you have to do is: Start->Run->tasks and run the newly created task (usually "At1"). The cmd window that just got opened allow you to run everything as if you were the System account.