I recently discovered AdGuard. This runs as a daemon on your system and not as a browser extension. It is really nice. I can’t believe I didn’t know about it till now. I bought four lifetime licenses and installed them on all my computers.

They are running a 40% off sale right now for the next week: https://adguard.com/en/welcome.html

Having played Demon Souls and both Dark Souls I and II - I cannot believe the graphical improvements they have done on Dark Souls III. It is gorgeous. The graphical detail is incredible. The game also plays pretty well. I have noticed minor slowdowns but nothing major. Now hopefully I have enough discipline to finish Dark Souls I and II before playing III.

I bought Dark Souls when it first came out. I had previously beaten Demon Souls and thought I was ready to dive back into this type of game - I wasn’t. Dark Souls sat in my Steam library up until this passed weekend when Dark Souls 3 was released. Now I thought I could tackle Dark Souls. I have about 12 hours into the game and its slow going. My reflexes have lessened quite a bit. I beat Demon Souls in 2009 so it took seven years for me to recover:)

I forgot how frustratedly hard the game can be. Tonight I spent most of the evening fighting the Capra Demon. Google it and you will know how this one demon pisses off so many people.

Well I finally beat him and moved on. Yeah that satisfaction of finally defeating something that has defeated you so many times is the magic of these games.

I probably won’t be playing Dark Souls 3 anytime soon (still have Dark Souls 2 to play first).

I have been playing the hell out of Grim Dawn. I kickstarted Grim Dawn in 2012 and was finally released this February. I never play early access or beta versions so I never actually played it until it was released.

The game is really good. The skill trees are huge and varied. The classes make sense. The loot is plentiful!

The story is so-so. I haven’t been into an action RPG story since Diablo II and that was really due to the cut scenes and without them I find myself not really caring.

I have been watching a lot of Scrubs on Netflix. I really loved the first three seasons and then the tone of show changed. The show got a lot more goofy and the characters became caricatures of themselves.

I was considering not watching anymore but then I changed my thinking and accepted the new zany format.

I bought Just Cause 3 off of Steam on Friday and have been playing it all weekend. Really fun. I am actually enjoying the story missions. I actually want to see what happens next - this is a huge improvement over the first two games in the series. The general gameplay is the same but it has been really refined. I am enjoying all the changes. I never got around to finishing the first two because the story was so bad and blowing up bases and collecting things just got old. I do think I will finish this one however.

I was a NT and Exchange administrator doing contracting work at Excel Data Corp in 1994. I was initially hired to be the internal system administrator and eventually worked my way up to contracting.

Excel had a little RedHat 1.0 server called Merlin that was setup with a Livingston Postmaster and 25 U.S. Robotics Sportster 14.4 modems. Each employee was given a remote login and there was telnet access as well (no SSH yet!).

I was in charge of setting up new accounts. This was done with a shell script I barely understood that wrote directly to the /etc/passwd and /etc/shadow file (I know I didn’t even use useradd or adduser).

To say I was a newbie isn’t enough: I got on irc and asked questions and just typed in commands people told me on #Linux on EFNET! I am so surprised the company wasn’t hacked.

One day Merlin wasn’t working quite right. Some folks couldn’t login. ls /home showed UID and GID numbers instead of names for some users.

I had no clue. The CTO at the time was a guy named Rocky Morgan. An old school UNIX guy that used to work for DEC.

Well he came over and logged into the console and ran one command. If my memory serves it was something like:

#@g%$fw#$e%@#|#$ew%#h%h@#|w$^@#hr%^h#$|^#$gdh#$^

Of course that wasn’t the command but it might as well have been.

The command spit out a couple of line lines…The users who were affected. The command showed the /etc/passwd for those users had incorrect fields. Some how the script I had used to create users broke it. I spent an hour looking at the thing and had no clue. Rocky came over and within 30 seconds showed the problem and how to fix it.

I was so impressed. At that moment I wanted to wield that kind of power. I swore that one day I would be able to write out a long command with multiple pipes and do something useful. I would do it from memory and one day I would be a UNIX master.

Fast forward to 2008. I was working at Pelago. Someone wanted to know if we were getting attacked. The web servers were slammed. I logged in and ran the following command:

awk '{ print plain" "$7 }' access.log | sort | uniq-c | sort-n

The command showed the source ip address and the URI that was getting hit. The output looked something like:

15 141.101.96.66 /careers/meet-the-team/ 
15 162.158.68.149 /_themes/stripe/fonts/ss-gizmo/ss-gizmo.eot? 
15 162.158.76.191 /favicon.ico 
15 173.245.63.186 / 
17 141.101.96.83 /blog/feed/ 
18 108.162.245.146 / 
19 108.162.238.224 / 
19 173.245.63.228 / 
20 162.158.76.5 /robots.txt

It was a nice distribution of ip addresses with legal URIs. We weren’t getting attacked (turns out a famous actress tweeted about our application and we were getting flash traffic).

Now this entire process took me about 30 seconds and it was run using across a fleet of web servers. I turned to the coworker who asked and explained everything looked fine. He had a surprised look on his face and he just said...

“How did you do that?!”

I was the UNIX master:) It took 15 years but at that moment I thought of Rocky and that I had made my dream come true.

I posted a slightly shorter version of this story 10 months ago on Reddit:

https://www.reddit.com/r/linux/comments/31kwyy/whats_your_biggest_accomplishment_working_with/cq2m301

My first real UNIX job was at AT&T Wireless…well lets slow down a bit.

I was a contractor working at McCaw Cellular. I was helping convert their MS MAIL system that ran on DOS to this shiny new product called Exchange. My liaison was a guy name Kevin Regimbal. Next to Doug Hauger (coworker at Excel Data Corp where I worked at the time) probably the most influential person in my life. We had to interface with their SMTP gateway which ran on Solaris and used Sendmail.

I had very little experience with UNIX at this point. I played with Slackware Linux at home and helped manage a dial in server called Merlin at Excel Data Corp. Speaking of Excel Rocky Morgan was another really influential person in my life as well but I will tell that story later.

Okay so here I am doing a contract job and really focused on NT and Exchange. Kevin showed me Solaris and Sendmail and how it interfaced with the MS MAIL system and I was in love. Solaris was so cool! I mentioned to Kevin that I wish I could be a UNIX admin one day (see that was my dream job).

Kevin must have seen something in me because shortly after he was building out his team at the now AT&T Wireless and I applied and got the job.

Kevin taught me everything about being a good UNIX administrator. Kevin was kind and never yelled. He always explained his decisions and even if you disagreed with him you respected him.

Kevin taught me the importance of supporting our customers. He let me known we weren’t working on servers but helping other people do their jobs. If the mail server wasn't working people couldn’t do work and that was the real problem we were solving.

Kevin left AT&T Wireless and went to Amazon. He hired me there as well. I really don’t know where I would be in my career today if it wasn’t for him. Amazon was a lot different than AT&T Wireless. Instead of Solaris it was Linux. Instead of <50 servers for a team of five we had >1200 for a team of five.

Everything changes at scale and automation was needed. Instead of our customers being people in retail stores or business types now our customers were developers and everyone who used Amazon.com.

We had to work closely with developers. We had to understand the impact of their changes. We had to anticipate problems and proactively solve them before outages came. We had to make sure communications between operations and the different development teams was smooth. There couldn’t be a wall between us.

Work at Amazon was easily 100% more intense than at AT&T Wireless but it never seem to get to Kevin. He was always calm. Always supportive. Kevin fostered the relationships between our team and everyone else.

I remember the moment I realized the difference between Linux and Solaris. I was working on a server that threw a kernel panic. I was dutifully noting the stack trace and trying to figure out why it had crashed. Was it a bad motherboard? Maybe a disk was failing. Kevin walked over and said “Just reboot it - its Linux”. My jaw dropped. We had Solaris servers at AT&T Wireless that had been running for years. If Solaris crashed Sun could tell us exactly why. I was shocked.

I remember thinking “This Linux fad won’t last…”

Shortly after my last post about which Macintosh programs I still use I am making a change. MarsEdit is out. I also tried Desk PM which kept crashing. I am now using Blogo which I quite like.

I shouldn’t have blindly updated MarsEdit thinking the new version would be so much better. I also shouldn’t have purchased Desk PM but did based on the reviews.

Both MarsEdit and Desk PM didn’t work right, crashed quite a bit, and I couldn’t actually update my blog using them which is unfortunate since that is their main purpose.

Blogo is really great and I am glad I found it. I am not fond of writing in web based editors.