The commute to my office is over 50 miles and even with my workday starting on the earlier side, it currently takes over an hour to get to the office and almost two hours to get home. Fortunately, I am able to work from home three days a week which helps considerably to maintain my sanity. Since the vast majority of IT work can be performed from anywhere, it’s a decent arrangement for everyone. Continue reading
Category Archives: Family
A replacement for CrashPlan
Last month, I wrote how CrashPlan is discontinuing their home service and that I had to find a suitable alternative. Backup solutions aren’t the most thrilling kind of software and investigating and evaluatingÂ the different options can hardly be considered fun. The complicating fact is that I have an atypical arrangement, or I suppose you could call it a specific set of requirements. I have a server along with other computers at home and another server at my mother-in-law’s along with her computer. Since I’m a firm believer of the 3-2-1 backup rules, I wanted to make sure everything is suitably protected.
Dealing with spammers and robocallers
Sadly, we all have to deal with ‘robocallers’Â and similar undesired and unsolicited calls by telemarketers. I have been remiss in sharing a very decent resource that I’ve been utilizing for our house phone for over two years.
Not just a team, but a family
Not surprisingly, in working for Edify I’ve learned that life inÂ a non-profit requires being very thoughtful and judicious about how we use our resources and spend our money. Certainly, we could expand our manpower by hiring more staff or simply ‘throw money’ at every challenge that arises. That doesn’t work very well in the long run. In daily practice, the challenge is to find creative solutions or strategic trade-offs to keep our focus on our mission: To improve and expand sustainable Christ-centered education globally.
I’m happy to say that there is one thing, whichÂ comes at great expense, thatÂ is one of our wisest investments of our time and money: our annual team meeting. Each January, our (growing) team gathers to spend time together in fellowship, devotion, training, and sharing. In the past, the meetings have been in San Diego, but this year’s was our first in the field: Ghana.
When you think about all of the effort and expense that goes into flights, visas, lodging, food, and all the related logistics, it would be so easy to for our management to decide against it. Instead, the commitment to the time by our founders and senior management gets stronger each year.
I was fortunate enough to join Edify shortly before last year’s meeting so the one I’m just now returning from is my second. We now total 53 with over a quarter added in the past year alone. As I’m involved in getting each one set up and oriented, I have the benefit of being familiar with names and roles from the start. Hearing their voices on a weekly prayer call or other phone conferences only goes so far to really get to know people. Seeing them in person, sharing a meal, trading stories, is the only way to truly make a connection. That I did at every opportunity.
I can honestly say that my family has grown considerably since I joined Edify. It’s an honor and a pleasure to share my time and talents in service to them and our collective goals.
I have been blessed by the opportunity I’ve had. I cannot wait for us to be together again in 2018!
Learning to Fly
As a belated birthday present for our daughter, we took a trek yesterday down to the glider port in La Jolla for her to participate in a falconry lesson led by Denise and Kirk of Sky Falconry. It was an absolutely great way to spend a Saturday morning and being an observer of these beautiful raptors is quite an opportunity to learn quite a bit about the birds and the history of working with them. It was almost as enjoyable as being able to interact with them. Almost.
Starting a new chapter
Since my life-changing event back in March, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many different people and learn about several organizations, each one different from the others. I have alsoÂ spent a significant amount of timeÂ determining who I am professionally (my strengths, weaknesses, and motivations). That combined with my belief that technology can truly make a difference in people’s lives and it has helped direct my search.
Through a most interesting series of events that I’m unable to adequately explain here, I learned of an opportunity at EdifyÂ which is a very special non-profit organization that is best summarized from theÂ website: “To improve and to expand sustainable, affordable Christ-centeredÂ education in the developing world.” They achieve that by supporting private schools through small loans, training, and technology. To date, they have partnered with over 1,600 schools and have impacted the lives of over 300,000 students.
After many conversations it became more and more clear that there was a unique match between their needs and my background and skills. I’m happy and proud to say that they have invited me to join with them in their work and start tomorrow as their Vice President of Information Technology. I cannot convey how excited I am for this opportunity and look forward to making an impact in ways I surely couldn’t have previously imagined.
Having the Summer off to enjoy my family was a significant blessing. In light of having just taken my oldest child off to college for the first time yesterday, it all couldn’t have worked out better. Yet another sign that the Lord’s plans are the best.
Enjoying doing the geek thing
Since I have time on my hands, I have been enjoying working on a handful of projects to scratch various ‘itches.’ Some have been long-standing items on my to-do list and others are areas of interest that would normally be relegated to the “someday/maybe” list.
A geek’s closet
All my various tech do-dads and thingamabobs have been in drawers in the den or elsewhere and were reasonably organized but still a hassle to access and dig through. My wife ran across an interesting picture on Pinterest and showed it to me asking if I’d like to do the same with our hallway closet. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance. It also allowed an opportunity to work with my son on installing the shelving.
There’s some more work still to go into it before I’m done. The two cardboard boxes need to be replaced with something better and I’m going to install some LED strips on the inside of the door frame for better lighting.
I’ve worked with Amazon’s webÂ services (AWS) both professionally and personally but only to a limited degree. For PlayStation, I generated various financial reports based on usage and personally I’m using their email service to handle outbound email from my mail server.
To address the taskÂ that followsÂ and to satisfy my own curiosity, I spun up an instance in their Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). EC2 is very often what is being referred to when someone uses the overly-used “cloud” term. It’s just a virtual machine that is running somewhere in one ofÂ Amazon’s datacenters. Nothing mystical, but quite convenient when you need to set upÂ something likeâ€¦
A secondary mail server
For various reasons, I really like being in charge of my own services. The web server hosting this very page you’re reading also handles my email. I hardly have much emailÂ traffic, but the server is offline from time to timeÂ so it’sÂ appropriateÂ to have a secondary mail server available that can receive incoming messagesÂ relayingÂ them when the primary server comes back online. With my newly-minted EC2 instance, I was able to get that going in just a short while and checked-off a big to-do item.
Raspberry Pi 2
For father’s day, my family got me a Raspberry Pi 2 to upgrade the previous model I’d been running upstairs (as a secondary DNS server). It kinda amazes me how capable a machine it is for only $35.
The Raspberry Pi 2 is considerably faster than the previous generation. Having some available computing overhead, as well as a slightly-more complicated infrastructure at home (due to the EC2 instance), I wanted to get some monitoring going. I dabbled a little with Nagios, but quickly remembered why I don’t care for it. After researching alternatives, IÂ settled onÂ ZabbixÂ and just got it running this afternoon. It’ll take some time to get everything configured just right, butÂ that’s part of the fun.
Due to a somewhat strange set of events, as I write this I’m making my living onÂ a short-term contract developing some automation scripts in bash (a command-line shell onÂ UNIX/Linux systems). It’s drawing on my older SysAdmin skillsÂ andÂ has been really fun made evenÂ better by the fact I’m doing most of it from home via VPN. Not too shabby.
I have other projects I want to get intoÂ so I may write a follow-up with how those go. Now, back to Zabbixâ€¦
Teaching to the Test
This Saturday is my daughter’s high school graduation ceremony. It’s a celebration of all of the hard work she has put into learning and preparing herself for adulthood. As my wife was going through various papers and projects of her school career, she found this from when my daughter wasÂ in first or second grade encouraging everyone to do well on the APIÂ test:
It really reminds me why we decided to homeschool our kids. In the five or so years since we took responsibility for their education, I am certain they have learned from more subjects, gone more deeply withÂ ones ofÂ significance or interest, and developed skills to more fittinglyÂ equip them for college and beyond.
I’m exceedingly proud of both my kids and very much like the people they have become. Would they have become quality people if they stayed in public school? Probably, but I have no doubt they are even better for having not.
Whose problem will I solve?
When you work in IT, your daily job is using your experience and skill with technology to solve problems facing the business. Not surprisingly, in the weeks following my departure from my previous employer, it has been a little tough to no longer thinkÂ about the projects and challenges I had been facing for weeks or months (or even years). Don’t fret, I hardly loose any sleep over things any more as I spend my days with my family. That’s been a total plus of my present situation.
As I interview with companies and discuss the variousÂ challenges they face,Â I find myself contemplatingÂ how I would go aboutÂ addressing them. Some are quite familiar while others are unlike anything I’ve facedÂ before. Which challenges will I ultimately be called on to address? Only time will tell.
14 Years, 5 Months, 22 Days
That is how long I worked for my now previous employeer. Yesterday, I was included in a round of layoffs that hit my organization. That is quite a long run and I am thankful for the many opportunities I had and the numerous people I was fortunate to work with. Honestly, we accomplished some great things:
- The launch of the PlayStation 2, PSP, PlayStation 3, PS Vita, and PlayStation 4
- Development and release of countless titles from small download (PSN) titles to well-respected AAA ones like God of War, Uncharted, MLB, Last of Us, and most recently Bloodborne
- The integration of new studios and the spin-off of others
- The relocation of a studio to a new state-of-the-art location
- The progression of game development from CD to DVD to Blu-ray and similar development footprints from 100’s of MB to 100’s of TB of storage
- The growth from region-specific development to a fully world-wide development, QA, hosting, and IT organization
- The evolution of servers from physical to virtual and a similar progression of hosting from thousands of physical servers to private and public clouds
In large and, more likely, small ways I strived to make a difference and am proud of my legacy there. I wish those that remain well. It is a great group of people that are smart and very resourceful. I hope to work with them again.
It is challenging as this is the first time in my entire career that I don’t know what’s next. That’s ok. I’ll be working again soon. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the time with my family.