Allowable Complexity

I'm not sure I'd fully realized it before, but the key problems in systems administration--at least the kind that I interact with the most--are really manifestations of a tension between complexity and reliability. Complex systems are often more capable flexible, so goes the theory. At the same time, complexity often leads to operational failure, as a larger number of moving parts leads to more potential points of failure. I think it's an age old engineering problem and I doubt that there are good practical answers.…

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Persistent Emacs Daemons

I've been subject to a rather annoying emacs bug for months. Basically, when you start emacs with the --daemon switch, and the X11 session exits, and any emacs frames are open, then the emacs process dies. No warning. The whole point, to my mind, of the daemon mode is to allows emacs sessions to persist beyond the current X11 session. This shouldn't happen. I think this is the relevant bug report, but I seem to remember that the issue has something to do with the way that GTK interacts with the X11 session and emacs's frames.…

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A Life Changing Laptop Riser

*tl;Dr>* I got one of those nifty laptop risers that puts your laptop up closer to eye level, and it has pretty much improved all of my interactions with computers a thousand fold and it's made it possible for me to effectively use two screens. This post explores this. One of my coworkers had a laptop stand she wasn't using and I asked to borrow it for an afternoon, and my neck stopped hurting.…

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2011 Retrospective

For the most part, I'm quite happy with everything that I was able to accomplish last year. I've moved cities (for the second year in a row) and last year I changed jobs twice: in both cases, I think the current will stick for a while. And I'm working on other projects, with some impressive speed. Last year wasn't been great for finishing things, but I guess there's room for improvement this year.…

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Aeron Woes

I have an Aeron chair at my desk at home. Confession. I got it in April when I moved to New York City. The only piece of furniture that I had that I couldn't move in my (now former) car was my desk chair. I found a good deal on an Aeron chair and I rationalized to myself that the cost of the chair was actually about the cost of movers.…

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Documentation Emergence

I stumbled across a link somewhere along the way to a thread about the Pyramid project's documentation planning process. It's neat to see a community coming to what I think is the best possible technical outcome. In the course of this conversation Iain Duncan, said something that I think is worth exploring in a bit more depth. The following is directly from the list, edited only slightly: I wonder whether some very high level tutorials on getting into Pyramid that look at the different ways you can use it would be useful?…

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9 Awesome Git Tricks

I'm sure that most "hacker bloggers" have probably done their own "N Git Tricks," post at this point. But git is one of those programs that has so much functionality and everyone uses it differently that there is a never ending supply of fresh posts on this topic. My use of git changes enough that I could probably write this post annaully and come up with a different 9 things. That said here's the best list right now.…

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