John's Trip to LISA '95 in Monterey CA
September 17-22, 1995
- Up at 5:00am, picked up at 6:20, on the plane at 9:00am
- Spent a nice 2 hours at SF airport - had to walk the *entire*
circle of the airport from the arrival gate to the gate for the
bus to the United Express terminal
- Arrived at the Monterey Marriott, had a snooze
- Registered for the conference - the tutorial notes are all
included on a CD this year (neat)
- Hung out at the opening night reception for a bit
- morning tutorial: Talking Technical - an examination of communication
that helps to identify problem areas and avoid them. Worth going.
- afternoon: GUI Programming in Perl - covered CGI and TK/Perl, but
also covered curses based stuff, which seemed kind of strange to me ...
- Went to India's Clay Oven for dinner, and then for a drive down a
bit of the coast, with Murray K and Andy Toy. Big Sur is quite scenic.
- Checked some mail, and then hibernated ...
- Advanced Topics in System Administration Workshop - down the road
at the Monterey Plaza hotel on Cannery Row - interesting discussions
and idea sharing
- about 20 people involved, supposedly the cream of the crop
- better than a tutorial
- 3 main topics - security, networks, and PC support
- something might come of the security discussion
e.g. a security for managers booklet, potentially paying for someone to
write it, covering things like why have security, what happens if we
don't (e.g. case histories), how to find out about security etc.,
questions to ask your vendor in RFPs
- SFU is doing a completely bridged network across
campus, with an ATM backbone
- SFU is looking at ``timestep'' from Newbridge, but I can't remember
what it does
- best source for security information
- Perhaps there should be a SAGE booklet on tools and resources for
system administrators e.g. hold seminars, produce newsletters (to
prove what you're doing), request and work tracking systems, good
information sources, books, www sites, professional development
opportunities (LISA SANS etc), importance of communication, what
makes a good manager, what makes a good system administrator
- How to avoid helping people, or how to find time for yourself
- hide the second chair in your office/cubicle to keep people
from getting too comfortable if they come looking for you
- have someone ``on call'' that will be the first contact
- separate your ``user support'' people from your ``system support''
people, or have people just to investigate new possibilities
(like Synopsys does - 3 people just looking at new stuff)
- mailing list for participants is censored
- Dinner at an Irish Pub on Cannery Row
- Now, off to some BOFs
- Went to ``How to Beg for Funding''
- Eric Berglund from Synopsys
- he's a sys admin manager, and they needed more funding to expand,
so he covered what they went through to try to convince upper
management of the need
- quantify growth
- identify fixed and variable costs
- identify people and their tasks in terms of FTE's, and identify
them as fixed and variable, and so on
- talked about metrics, and tracking what you're doing
- discussion about billing out services to the departments e.g.
they dedicate some people to particular departments
- they pay for maintenance centrally, but purchases are paid for by
the departments, so they don't have to pay the full cost of their
- Went to the bar with Murray K and Andy Toy - didn't see MikeB or
Adrian all day ....
- keynote address - Hardware, Wetware and Software - John Mashey SGI
- talked about how computers and disks are getting faster and faster,
but humans aren't getting any faster at all - how can we use software
to make us more efficient? Can we look at things in different ways
that will help us evaluate data better??
- lbnamed - a simple DNS server in perl, that Stanford uses to load
balance across workstation farms used as time sharing machines
- This is how we're going to handle the two machines in the PDB.
- LPRng - has some features and all that (a re-write of an lpr kind
of system), but it doesn't currently have any authentication of any
kind built-in - anyone can lie to it - so we can't use it
- whois++ client library - who cares?
- lunch with MikeB Adrian Murray K and Andy Toy at a Thai restaurant
- how come we don't have any Thai restaurants in Waterloo??
- Capital Markets trading floors - discussion of how to make things
much more reliable e.g. multiple power, multiple phone services from
multiple central offices. Checkerboarding of traders desks -
adjacent desks are on completely separate systems.
- Aurora from Morgan Stanley - how they are designing and
implementing a global ``standard'' workstation environment - AFS, etc
- Upgrading 1500 workstations - automation, load balancing, planning
- I can't remember what I did during the last session
- vendor displays
- got an address of someone to ask about Online DiskSuite on hero
- Synchronize is a scheduling program that may fit us better than
- $100US per user is list price, quantity and educational
will get us a copy, and we can request a 50 user 30 day license and
a copy of documentation
- Plus, they had cool little pocket knives
- Platinum Technology sells AutoSys (a job scheduler) and DBvision
- bought the new Firewalls book
- BOFs at night - work in progress - ``lamed'' was kind of interesting -
a cacheing name (and other) server that allows clients to mmap() the
cache file on a machine wide basis - but is it solving a
- Lots of hospitality suites - SGI, Pencom, Cisco, Auspex - most of
whom were trying to hire people. I went to the BayLisa Hospitality
suite (sponsored by Synopsys - I got a yoyo that says
the food was the best there - it was just like a free dinner.
And, it was on top of the DoubleTree hotel, so it had the best
- Joanne phoned me just before 4am :-)
- Dan Geer spoke on Electronic Commerce
- high volume network services - how Netscape is trying to load
balance across its webservers - includes a gross hack builtin to
- Bringing the MBONE Home (to your business) - how Cisco is using
MBONE tools inhouse
- lunch at El Torito with the regular gang
- management stuff - the ``From Something to Nothing (and back)'' paper
is worth reading
- SQL to HTML - how RPI is using the web to query some of its admin
- the last session didn't look interesting, so I went for a long walk
down the coast into Pacific Grove
- 8 to 10pm was the dessert reception at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (as
it was 2 years ago) - yum yum :-)
- papers - this is the ``all foreigners'' session
- OpenDist - how Siemens does software distribution across the WAN.
has reasonable link speeds, but has long latency. They make an
index on each machine, collect the index, build a compressed gnu tar
file and send that, along with instructions for installing.
- filetsf - I thought this was the best paper :-)
Someone asked about broadcasting, someone else (the guy from
Siemens) asked about sending a file that any member of a group could
- patch control - a method for dealing with a lot of official and
unofficial patches - distinction is important, since you have to
back out the unofficial patches when the next official patch comes
along, and then reapply them
- panel discussion on PC's
- this was primarily mail oriented, and wasn't really going anywhere,
so I left
- closing panel - computing in the year 2000
- about what you would expect
- more ubiquitous, everything is on the net, money is less common
- Spent a quite nice day walking along the shoreline and bying a couple
of things to bring home. There were people surfing down at Lover's
Point in Pacific Grove, and lots of big waves. Nice and sunny all
- Dinner was quite nice too - at Ferrante's at the top of the hotel.
- Taxi to airport, caught the earlier flight to San Francisco, walked the
entire length of the SF airport again.
- It was dark when I got home.