Archive for May, 2011

Update: Wow!, I am disappoint (but not anymore).

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For the last 9 years, I’ve been hosting this site and its predecessors out of my home. This is partially due to me being a control freak, and partially due to me being lazy. It was expensive, but the cost of a static ip comparable to paying for shared hosting someplace else. With this last move, the most economical way to accomplish this was to set up a Business account with WOW! Cable (since we were now hosting Jackie’s business site out of our house). It was a tough sell to get me to move to cable; I’d always used DSL previously, but AT&T sucked enough for me to finally make the leap.  The download connection was slower than I would have liked (2meg down!) because I wanted a higher upload speed, but it was better than nothing.

With LiteraryEscapism getting so popular, we finally saturated our home bandwidth to the point of not being able to use the internet, so we made the decision to migrate Jackie’s site to a VPS provider. It worked so well that we’ve basically moved all of our sites to Linode, meaning we’re no longer using that static IP that we pay good money for.

So, now I’m no longer hosting anything at home, am paying for a static IP, and have a dog-slow connection to the internet. Upgrading should be easy, right? I figured it would be a chance to bump my internet speed up and maybe get a better cable package so I could get BBC America.

I call WOW! and explain that I want to switch my business account to a residential account.  Since I called the business support line, Tracy the sales lady tries to convince me to stay with a business account, because they’re fairly competitive.   After a 20 minute conversation, she calculates out that if I keep the same speed, same cable package, drop the static ip,  and agree to a 2 year contract, She can lower my monthly price by $2. Yes, you read that right. Cutting off a $15/month static IP would save me $2 and force me into a 2 year contract.

I tell her that’s not acceptable, and that I can spend that much at comcast and get a much, much faster connection. Realizing that she’s about to lose me, she offers to “conference in” one of the residential sales people.

The new sales lady can bump me up to a nicer cable package (which includes BBC), increase my inetnet connection to the 8 meg package, provide me with a dtv box for my analog tv and an HD box for my other TV all for free,  and do it all for no contract and $2 MORE than I paying for right now. The Business rep who is still on the call is in shocked disbelief asking for clarification for her benefit more than mine.

Sounds great, right? Well, since we currently have a business account, our home is flagged as a business and not eligible for a residential account currently. I get that, it makes sense- they don’t want a business cutting costs by getting a residential package.  The residential sales lady says they can send someone out to ensure it’s not a business, then check with the post office, but it should be doable. The new connection would come in on a new line, so I could wait until they have it set up before cancelling the Business account- this would ensure uninterrupted service. The new sales lady (I didn’t write her name down, sadly) says it’ll take them no longer than 2 weeks to get things sorted out, then she’d call me back and we could set it up then.

How cool is that? Wow is one of the most sane companies I’ve worked with.  But wait, the title says disappoint…

So Two weeks come and go without a peep from them. Three weeks. I finally call back and get a tool. He acts as if he has no record of this prior conversation, and tells me that I need to cancel my business account before he can set anything up, and has no knowledge of needing to confirm that I’m not a business. When I ask him “so If I cancel my business account, when will the techs come out? when I try to set up the residential account, are you going to then need to contact the post office and send people out like you said before? How long will I be without service” He gives me a “I don’t want to put this much effort into this conversation” type of attitude and says they usually install next day, but avoids answering the non-business verification questions. I  point blank ask him “So in order to get uninterrupted service, I have to switch to comcast. That is what you’re saying?”

Stunned silence.

I thank him for his time and hang up.  WoW! is a good company, but I don’t want to deal with this- Now I gotta look up comcast pricing. Ergo,

UPDATE:

I’ve been a bit late in posting this, but Wow was able to get things straightened out. no contract, faster speed, and BBC for about the same price. Wins all around.

We’re Hiring…

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My employer is currently looking for a sysadmin. If you’re interested, contact me for details.

 

SR SYSTEMS ENGINEER ROLE IN FARMINGTON HILLS, MI

Summary:

We are looking for someone who will administer web hosting Linux systems infrastructure, including server hardware, operating system, enabling software, and application software/data for Internet-facing application systems. Direct other departments’ work on dependent systems such as network, firewall, load balancer, and external storage systems. Provide consultative expertise for our businesses to provide technical guidance, standards, knowledge and understanding of business and technology processes, and integration of technologies to deliver Internet-facing learning products and services.

The position will be responsible for systems configuration, implementation, administration, maintenance, and support, along with  application integration, and troubleshooting for our eLearning systems.

The role encompasses daily operational systems support in development, QA, and production tiers. It also encompasses project work with business units, developers, test labs, end users and other groups involved in the planning, development, integration, testing, and problem solving for applications, content, and data.

Essential Duties/Responsibilities:

  • Ensure maximum uptime of hosted environments, including production, staging, testing, authoring, and development environments. This includes, but is not limited to ensuring the HW is configured properly; is secure; is networked properly; is backed up per company standards; is monitored accordingly; is tested to ensure operability; and is built to company standards.
  • Act as a consultative resource for our businesses to provide technical guidance, standards, knowledge and understanding of  business and technology processes, and integration of technologies for content management and delivery.
  • Assist with integration efforts, including planning and coding where necessary in Apache, Tomcat Java, and MySQL database technologies, and scripting languages.
  • Assume lead role in complex problem solving in hosted environments, offering meaningful solutions and implementation strategies. Engage other departments and direct their work on supporting systems such as network, firewall, load balancers, and external storage. Engage application teams with analysis from logs and data on the servers, and provide recommendations for problem resolution.
  • Be part of an on-call rotation schedule that includes carrying a pager/email device 24/7. Respond to all alerts immediately and inform management of issues and work being performed to remedy the problem. Direct escalation to engage additional resources if required to troubleshoot and resolve a problem.
  • Monitor, analyze, and report performance statistics for web hosting environments. Troubleshoot hosting environment failures and manage / assist in the development of solutions to these problems. This includes not only overall environment / platform problems, but also includes problems affecting individual client accounts (i.e. data integrity, reporting, security, etc.).
  • Analyze web hosting environment averages and peak workloads / throughput compared to existing capacities and plan required accommodations to address environmental growth. Take necessary corrective actions (both scheduled and unscheduled) to proactively address potential problems before they become operational / environmental problems. Notify Manager of projected needs and actions taken.
  • Ensure security of systems, including standard server build and lock-down procedures, and monitoring security access to systems.
  • Review system logs regularly, report and research warnings and errors. Review system logs for backup completions and report any discrepancies.
  • Execute implementation/migration of new software and application versions across the development and staging and production environments and prepare back out plans on all platforms to be updated. Ensure adherence to established Change Management and QA procedures. Verify results with appropriate parties.
  • Work with peers and other departments to analyze ongoing processes and procedures. Where relevant, propose / design improvements to operational processes.
  • Keep up to date with developments in the e-Learning / web-based information technology field through educational and other information resources and make management aware of possible applications for new technologies.
  • For new web hosting infrastructure projects, act as technical lead for planning and implementation.   Mentor and train junior team members in all areas of IT expertise.

Skills/Knowledge/Experience:

Basic (Required)

  • Bachelor’s degree in Information Systems, Computer Science, Business or Engineering or equivalent job related experience.
  • Must have an excellent command of:
    1. Red Hat Linux Operating System
    2. Apache Web Servers
    3. Tomcat application environment running Java
    4. MySQL Database Server
    5. MarkLogic Content Management Systems
  • Must possess experience designing, building, maintaining, migrating, tuning, administering, and supporting three-tiered web/application/database server environments
  • Experience with Internet access and security for servers residing within a DMZ
  • Must have excellent written and oral communications, including technical documents, and process documents.
  • Must possess excellent problem-solving and analytical skills and be able to translate business requirements into information systems solutions.
  • Able to translate business requirements into technical recommendations for information systems solutions.
  • Must possess excellent problem-solving and analytical skills; ability to assist with network, system, and application troubleshooting required.

Preferred

  • This position demands a well-organized, action-oriented team player with the ability to prioritize daily work, change directions quickly, coordinate geographically dispersed team members and work on multiple projects simultaneously.
  • Comprehensive knowledge of problem analysis, structured analysis and design, and programming techniques.
  • Coding and scipting skills for a RedHat/Apache/Tomcat/MySQL environment, clustering and other high-availability architectures, TCP/IP, along with various server management and administrative tools.
  • Ability to work with minimal supervision, engaging peers and other departments to accomplish assigned goals and effectively manage projects in a cross-functional environment.

Administer web hosting infrastructure, including server hardware, operating system, enabling software, and application software/data for content management systems. Direct other departments’ work on dependent systems such as network, firewall, load balancer, and external storage systems. Provide consultative expertise for our businesses to provide technical guidance, standards, knowledge and understanding of business and technology processes, and integration of technologies to deliver Internet-facing learning products and services.

The position will be responsible for systems configuration, implementation, management and support, along with  application integration, and troubleshooting for our MarkLogic-based Content Management Systems. The role includes installation, configuration, administration and maintenance of the content management environment and integrating new systems and products into the platform.

The role encompasses daily operational support of the content management systems and application environment in development, QA, and production tiers. It also encompasses project work with business units, developers, test labs, end users and other groups involved in the planning, development, and testing of products, content, and workflows in the content management systems.

 

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