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Teachable Points Of View 2

July 17, 2011 2 comments

Over the course of the last 10 months of work, there are some lessons that I’ve re-learned, as well as new lessons that I’ve gained. These constitute my latest teachable points of view.

1. Sometimes, it’s not what you know but who you know who will make you successful in life.

Build your network. It’s good to build bridges with the senior people at work, however we are all old and will be dead soon (or is that just me?), and so it’s also important to network with your peers and your subordinates.

There was a time when I was just a Programmer who did not know anything, one among many other Programmers who also did not know anything and like me were just starting out in the real world. Fast-forward to today, and my generation is now running the show, as Managers or Senior Managers. The Programmers who reported to me before are now Associate Managers or Managers themselves, and are helping my generation manage the project.

You will not be a Programmer or a Systems Analyst forever. Someday, the time will come when your generation will run the show and call the shots, and when your time comes, you will be there to help each other out, just as my generation is helping each other out now.

2. Learn a lesson from the movie “Saving Private Ryan”: Our objective is to win the war. If a tactical opportunity suddenly presents itself to help you accomplish a goal, then act on it immediately.

In the movie, the mission of the Captain and his team was to find and bring home a soldier named Private Ryan. Along the way, they came across a German sniper outpost. It was not their mission to take out the outpost; however the Captain made the decision to disable it since they had an opportunity to do so, because disabling the outpost would spare the lives of other Allied teams that would cross the same path later. It’s in this small way that they helped contribute more to the overall war effort. The Captain did not wait for orders from Head Quarters if he can take out the outpost or have some other team handle it; he saw the chance to do so, and took it.

We need to think and act quickly if an opportunity comes our way where we can add more value to the work that we are doing. Admittedly, it does help if you’re in a position with enough authority to make command decisions, however even without that, I still think that we can still find ways to add value, in our own small way.

3. Bad experiences will always be bad, however no matter how painful it may be, there is still some value from it.

This is one of those ideas that you file under the category “easier said than done,” but if you can get past the cynicism, you’ll see that there is some truth in it.

Needless to say, the recently concluded software release that I was a part of was just painful in many ways; right now I’m just glad it’s over.

I just recently updated my resume to reflect the experiences I gained from this release. I sent out my resume to all the popular job hunting sites that I have accounts, and all the head hunters I knew, and with that posting I also mentioned a very high asking price for my desired monthly salary. One week after sharing my resume, one of my company’s competitors sent me an invitation to apply for three open positions they had, all of which were at the Senior Manager level. Imagine that: Instant promotion while getting a paycheck substantially higher than what I’m getting now! This just tells me that my experience with this release, as well as the experience gained from all the difficult releases and projects that I’ve worked on, is worth something.

Whether in one’s professional or personal life, bad experiences will always be bad, and there’s no sugar-coating that fact. However there is also tremendous value in bad experiences. With an open mind and trust in God, one can find the hidden blessing in the midst of any trial.

Ask yourself this: What is the value of the bad experiences you’ve gained so far, if not to yourself, then to someone else?

4. Sometimes, it’s still better to deal with the devil you know than the devil you do not.

This is the reason why I did not entertain the competitor’s offer, in case anyone was wondering why. Though I didn’t say “yes” to them, it’s also worth noting that I didn’t say “no” to them, too. Keep your options open.

5. Everybody is insane in their special and unique way; deal with it, or try to find a way to use a person’s insanity to your advantage. If you cannot do that then find someone more insane than that person who can help you and escalate that person to him – just be sure that this other person can do something about it and is on your side.

Special thanks go to my boss for this particular item!

And that’s about all for now.

Okay.  It’s time to go back to doing the needful.

Related post: Teachable Points Of View.

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

Recycle Bin Mystery

July 16, 2011 Leave a comment

The other week, one of the Windows Server 2008 R2 servers that my team was supporting was rapidly losing disk space.  What was particularly worrisome was that we could not determine what was causing it.  We had to babysit the server 24 hours a day for a few days, freeing up disk space by deleting files and moving off log files to another drive; this firefighting work was not amusing.  It came to a point when we could neither delete nor move off files from the drive anymore.

One of the things one of my team stumbled upon by chance was certain folders inside the Recycle Bin of the drive that was losing disk space, either had large disk usages or were suddenly gaining in size.

Example folders from the Recycle Bin

To display the folders in the Recylce Bin, go to Control Panel > Folder Options > View, and select the Show hidden files, folders, and drives option and uncheck the Hide protected operating system files (Recommended) option.

One thing we learned as a result of researching what these were was that each folder represented the Recycle Bin of a user who has previously logged into the system.  In the case of the screen shot above, the Recycle Bins of the other users are represented by their SIDs; in our case we saw these folders also labeled as “Recycle Bin.”

Some application or process in our server was deleting files, but apparently it was not really deleting it but just moving it into the Recycle Bin.

In the interim, we decided to delete the Recycle Bin folders that consumed the most space, and this workaround bought us more time to investigate the problem some more.

To determine what this application or process could be, I used a Microsoft Sysinternals tool called Process Monitor to list down all the processes that were currently running in the server, and to display which one was doing a lot of reads and writes to the disk.

We found out that there was a scheduled task that was running that had a lot of reads and writes to the disk, and this gave us a clue on where to look next.

Upon opening Task Scheduler, we saw a task created by one of my team that was scheduled to run everyday.  My team member setup this task to auto-archive and delete the log files we were collecting as part of our daily performance monitoring work.  I asked my team member to login and look at his scheduled task some more, and it was then that we saw that his Recycle Bin was full!

So, at this point we have identified the user profile whose Recycle Bin was filling up with files that were consuming disk space, and we’ve narrowed down the suspected cause to the scheduled task that was set to run daily.

The scheduled task involved copying the log files we needed, compressing them using WinZip, moving the compressed files to another drive, and then finally deleting the log files copied.  Instead of using the DEL command to delete the files, however, we relied on a command-line switch of WinZip to delete the files — and there was the problem!  WinZip was “deleting” the files, but it was sending these files to the Recycle Bin instead of really deleting them, which is likely by design.  (Of course, “deleting” a file is really just removing the file’s entry from the file system; the file is still there until it gets overwritten by another file, or the disk is securely wiped.)  We solved our problem by using the DEL command of the operating system to delete the files instead — and with that action, no files were sent to the Recycle Bin.

The problem was solved by a combination of finding out what process was doing any deletes, and correcting the script (the process) we used to use Windows’ DEL command to ensure the files that needed deleting were indeed deleted and not sent to the Recycle Bin.

On a personal note: I was supposed to be on vacation during the particular week that this problem happened, but my boss asked me to defer my leave to continue providing support for this particular week in our release.  I’m actually glad I was working this particular week, otherwise I would have missed this opportunity to learn something new about Windows, and the need to be careful with the file system operations we perform (i.e. be careful in using a third-party application to do a task that the operating system can handle well with its built-in commands).  It was troublesome doing the firefighting work that we did, but when we finally had time to dig deeper, find the root cause and solve the problem, the effort we put into it and the lessons we learned from this experience were all worth it.  Thank You, God, for Your guidance in this matter; I and my team literally could not have done this without You!

Death and Life

July 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Death is a reality of life. The evil men and women of this world will someday pass away. However the same also happens for all the people we love. Death, indeed, is the greatest equalizer of man.

It is because of the reality of death that I am all the more convinced and reminded of how important it is to celebrate and defend life.

How Birth Control Pill Kills

 

It’s hard to be Pro-Life in this day and age, for one is hated for going against popular culture. If it’s any consolation, we are not alone in suffering persecution; as a matter of fact we were not even the first. We should consider it an honor, then, to be persecuted for His sake.

As Jesus once said, “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.” (John 15:18)

 

Jesus, I trust in You!

 

Standard Users and Administrative Shares

July 16, 2011 Leave a comment

First of, administrative shares are those generated by the operating system by default and are typically labeled with the $ sign to make them hidden.  Examples of these are the shares to the root of each of the drives and the Windows folder.

Two of the common administrative shares in Windows.

Users with administrative-level privileges on the system will not have a problem mapping to these.  Fortunately standard users will typically not need to access these administrative shares.

The problem is if you share a folder and your standard users attempt to access it using a path that requires administrative access.  Take for example the following path:

Shared folder

The name of this file share is “Test.”

If your standard user attempts to access this via \\Server\D$\Temp\FS\Test, then his access will fail because the standard user does not have permission to access the D$ shared root in the first place.  Users with administrative-level privileges will not encounter this problem.  The solution is simple: The standard user should access this share via the sharing name given to it, thus it should be \\Server\Test.

This looks like a simple problem, and it is, actually, but it’s amazing what you learn and find out from daily troubleshooting of user’s issues.

 

Owning The Solution

July 16, 2011 2 comments

Last April 30, I attended a Career Coaching training session in the office that was very insightful. It talked about the process one can follow to coach the people under you. It’s actually not just applicable to work but also to coaching other people in our lives, and even ourselves.

The one significant life lesson I got from the training is this: It is absolutely critical for all of us to eventually come up with the solution to our own problems, and not rely on other people to tell us what to do. It is only through coming up with the solution to our own problems where we take responsibility and gain ownership of the actions that need to be done.

If someone else tells us what to do rather than help us come up with the solution ourselves, then there is no real ownership of the solution, and where there is no real ownership, follow-up and follow-through can fail, and you’ll end up blaming the other person for telling you what to do, and feel bad about it. It is still so much better for us to tell ourselves what to do instead.

Even if you ask someone for options, ultimately you will make the final decision on what option to do; ultimately you will take ownership in driving the option chosen to completion.

Own the solution. It’s the only way you will feel right about doing it, and it’s best way to ensure that it will happen.

 

 

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy