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.

Wednesday, Debtember 22, 2004

“Don't mind us, we're just using these offices …”

The story of two programmers, with no contract and no managers and no access managed to write a very popular piece of software that officially, didn't exist.

In August 1993, the project was canceled. A year of my work evaporated, my contract ended, and I was unemployed.

I was frustrated by all the wasted effort, so I decided to uncancel my small part of the project. I had been paid to do a job, and I wanted to finish it. My electronic badge still opened Apple's doors, so I just kept showing up.

I asked my friend Greg Robbins to help me. His contract in another division at Apple had just ended, so he told his manager that he would start reporting to me. She didn't ask who I was and let him keep his office and badge. In turn, I told people that I was reporting to him. Since that left no managers in the loop, we had no meetings and could be extremely productive.

Twenty percent of Apple's fifteen thousand workers lost their jobs, but Greg and I were safe because we weren't on the books in the first place and didn't officially exist. Afterwards, there were plenty of empty offices. We found two and started sneaking into the building every day, waiting out in front for real employees to arrive and casually tailgating them through the door. Lots of people knew us and no one asked questions, since we wore our old badges as decoys.

On March 11, 1994, the front page of the Times business section contained an article on the alliance among Apple, IBM, and Motorola, picturing Greg and me in my front yard with a view of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Someone I knew in Apple Public Relations was livid. I had asked if she wanted to send someone for the interview, but she had said that engineers are not allowed to talk with the press. It's hard to enforce that kind of thing with people who can't be fired. It was positive press for Apple, though, and our parents were pleased.

Via 0xDECAFBAD, The Graphing Calculator Story

There may be a lesson in this somewhere, but I'm at a loss for what it may be …

La commedia degli errori

Well, that was fun.

I went to make the previous entry, and like nearly every entry I make, I do it via email, since I find it more convenient and the editing environment is much nicer than the textbox thing you get on a webpage.

So I mail off the entry, then go to check the page to see if it posted and I can't get to the server. It's not responding. Can't ping it. Nothing.

Now, the server is one of a pair of server located in the Nap of the Americas in Miami. I can get to the other server just fine. I can't get to this server, which isn't fine.

Not that much of a problem—the server is plugged into a controled powerstrip so it can be power cycled remotely. Only there's a problem: I have the old address for the powerstrip, not the new one.

See, last month there was a major IP renumbering and I neglected to get the new IP address of the power strip.

Not that much of a problem—I can ask the previous admin what that is (since he still has some equipment down there as well). Only there's a problem: it was never given a new address, so it still has the old address.

Not that much of a problem—I still have the old IP addresses programmed into the system so I should be able to get to it. Only there's a problem. The IP block I was using (the old IP addresses) was different than then IP block that the power strip was on.

Not that much—

No, problem. Big one. The network engineer (Dan, I've mentioned him before) was confused at to which block we were using, and which block we are now using. Basically, there was a mess of communications between various parties about what IP addresses were actually in use and when and whatever.

So, I called down to the Nap of the Americas to have them physically power cycle the down box. And while I was waiting for that to happen, Dan and I were trying to puzzle out just what IP addressess we were using and what we should be using and what not.

We were able to finally get access to the power strip via its old IP address via the server that was still up. Only there was one slight problem—no web browser on that server.

Not that much of a problem—with Gentoo, Lynx was one emerge command away. Then log into the power strip. Only there's a problem—the login information I have doesn't work. I can't log in to power cycle the machine.

Not that much of a problem though—the Nap of the Americas had called back and were ready to reboot the server. Which they did (thankfully, they got the right one too!). So the server is finally back up and running.

What I think happened is that some equipment was removed from the cabinet the servers are in, and the server might have been bumped and powered down by mistake, because I can't see any obvious signs of anything else happening to the machine.

But you never know …

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