Jason's Blog

A good weekend minus some annoying computer problems…

by on Jun.13, 2004, under Technical

First, had a massive party (well, massive for a summer party in a college town) with a bunch of friends visiting. That was pretty cool. Stayed up, talked about music, saw some old friends, had some beers/drinks, did the traditional flaming piniata (pictures will possibly follow, depending on susceptibility of guilt), and otherwise had a good ol’ time. This wasn’t the high point of the weekend (that was hanging out on Saturday night – details may follow later wink ), but it was a lot of fun.

Fast forward to Saturday afternoon. I of course don’t wake up till like 12 in the afternoon, with some of my guests who after having stayed over, decided to wake up early to play video games and talk VERY loudly – annoying me in my sleeping state (which changed to unsleeping). I groggily woke up, complained bitterly at the poor performance of their video game skills, while wanting more to harass them for the error of waking up before 3pm on a saturday. Of course, all of this might be due to having had a lot to drink the night before, and being slightly dehydrated (go figure) and irritable.

On to Saturday evening. I was originally supposed to get cleaned up, and go to St. Louis to hang out with associated guests and other friends. I ended up being a lazy bum and sitting around the house most of the day, doing absolutely nothing. But all good things end and eventually I got cleaned up, did some basic chores, etc. This though involved me staying at home and doing these activities – no St. Louis for me this weekend. Anyways, after getting cleaned up, I decided to go out for the evening, as I’d been sitting at home all day bored out of my mind and loving it. Heck, why not go OUT and be bored – it’s just as fun! Course, this adventure was a lot more expensive, and I ended up hanging out till wayy late at night, but it was a LOT of fun, and very enjoyable. As said, details may follow at some point, but it was my night out, by myself to relax and enjoy myself. I had fun, and ended up staying out late into the evening. This adventure was most worth it, but eventually of course, it gets late and the bed starts to call. I don’t remember exactly when I decided it was time to head home, but it was around 3:am or so (I think). Here’s the fun part: I decide it would be a brilliant idea to go into work, to finish up some stuff I had to do later on Sunday, EARLY Sunday morning instead of Sunday afternoon, thus leaving my whole day free.

Let’s just say my plans didn’t go exactly well. First, I get to work, and find out some files I needed to do my work were missing. I was upgrading the firmware on our main network swtich, and needed those files to do the upgrades. A coworker was supposed to have placed them online where I could access them, as I don’t personally have access to the files directly. In addition to upgrading the switch firmware, I had planned on increasing the MAX_SGA size on one of our larger Oracle databases. Although most of you have NO clue what I’m talking about, let’s just say that these two tasks are sometimes difficult, but generally not too big of a deal – I’d figured maybe 30 minutes or so of work, tops. Particularly for one of my what-I-thought-were-amazing skills . So, instead of upgrading the firmware on the main network switch, I just did some other maintenance on the thing. And of course, this maintenance instead of taking something like 20 minutes to complete, takes an hour or so, and I’m sweating the whole time – because after rebooting the switch to enable the configuration changes, the thing has MASSIVE problems. When your workplace involves a couple of hundred people who depend entirely on this thing which isn’t working, you would start being VERY nervous too. However, my “l33t” skills prevailed, and I managed to fix everything. Course, by the end of this, it was something like 5am or so. I think – I got a little hazy on the details around that time.

For the astute reader, I mentioned two tasks – a network switch update, as well as an Oracle configuration change (That’s what changing the SGA is), and have noticed that I didn’t discuss the SGA issue. First, brilliant me said screw it, I’m going to go ahead and finish everything this morning as it should be VERY easy to change the max sga – I’ve done it before, and it’s a 5 minute thing. Let’s just say not only was this NOT a smart idea, but this was as hair-raising and annoying as the network switch issue. First, a large part of this is a rant on STUPID FRIGGING @#$ING MICROSOFT PRODUCTS. *sigh* Oracle on Windows seems to have a problem handling roughly anything larger than a 2GB memory configuration. Yes, most of you out there have only 128MB or 256MB or even 512MB of RAM in your machine – but this is a large server. It’s actually got 4GB of RAM in it, most of which should be dedicated to Oracle. However, the either stuipd Winblows or Oracle itself won’t allow Oracle to use even half of the memory on that system – even though it’s all reserved for Oracle. Guess what though – instead of failing gracefully when I tried to increase the memory, Oracle fails miserably. i.e. it won’t start at all. Further, after TRYING to start, it locks the memory for the database, so you can’t shut it down and restart the database without restarting the computer. Even more fun? This parameter is stored in a binary file, so you really need to have Oracle STARTED in order to change the settings. Can we see the logic loop which annoys me greatly here? Change memory in Oracle -> Oracle fails badly upon start -> Need to change Memory configuration -> Have to have database started to change memory configuration -> See Oracle fails badly upon start and repeat. *sigh* After another hour or so, and a lot of work, I managed to start Oracle with a non-binary file (for those technical peeps, it’s starting oracle with the init.ora file instead of the spfile that oracle uses by default now) and get everything working. By the time I’m done with everything though, it’s about 6:30am.

Now, on top of all of the above, I had to go in yet AGAIN this evening, after one of our other network switches started failing to respond. So, spent another 2 hours or so updating the firmware on these other switches (thankfully, I had the files for these switches so I could update their firmware), resetting them, etc. The time it took was mostly downloading the files, figuring out the settings for a TFTP server and getting that working, updating the switch, and then another chunk of time fixing a few other network devices which failed afterwards. So, all in all, I probably spent 4 or more hours doing work stuff this weekend, in funky hours of the morning, when sleeping would have been MUCH smarter and more enjoyable. Ahhh the joys and wonders of being a computer nut….


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