The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

No, no, the alarm clock! The alarm clock!

Ah, nothing like waking up to the sound of a cell phone call at 8:00 am (and when one normally gets up at 11:00 am—this would be like getting a call at 4:00 in the morning).

It wasn't unexpected, but it was definitely unwelcome.

See, one of the projects I'm working on at work is “Project White Elephant” (customer's name, not ours!†) a long and involved project where we're somewhat, but not entirely, involved with the day to day operations of a particular site. Communications involve a form of the telephone game, mostly through email (and occasional phone call)—need I say that what is actually wanted is not what is often asked for.

Much fun.

This morning's call started with events going back a week or so. The customer, MB, has a few old servers that are being decomissioned and donated to a university somewhere in Outer Mongolia. But before being shipped off MB wanted to ensure that any customer data (read: porn, and a lot of it, along with some other accounts and websites) be “scrubbed.”

I was picked to do the “scrubbing.” Not something that is terribly hard on a Unix-like system, provided one has the login information to the administration account on said systems. I sent emails last week asking for such information but had not heard back yet.

Until yesterday—when I learned that the machines in question were being turned off this morning and had to be scrubbed by that time.

I had yet to receive the login information. Heck, I had yet to receive a list of servers to log into!

Seven hours of emails and phone calls and I still couldn't log into all the requested machines to “scrub” them. I was able to gain access to one of the servers and “scrub” it, but not the other … unknown quanity of machines (yes, where were questions as to the exact count of machines being shipped). It wasn't until around 11:00 pm yesterday that I got the information required to scrub the other machines.

Except one.

I could not get into that machine remotely.

So, around 8:00 am or so I get the expected call from the person physically powering off the machines and packing them. I then had to walk this person through “scrubbing” the machine—someone unfamiliar with a Unix-like operating system.

Fortunately, he took directions quite well.

But man, am I tired right now.

†The actual project name isn't “Project White Elephant” but something of similar nature and yes, the customer was the one who came up with the name, oddly enough.

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