Site Maintenance (20th Sept 2015 22:00 GMT)


DiagnosticsJust a quick heads-up about some work going on tomorrow on the website.

My hosting provider has decided my server needs to be put into a new rack, so somewhere after 22:00 GMT tomorrow (20th Sept 2015) the server will be switched off, moved to a new rack and switched on. They say the process should be complete within 4 hours. I’m hoping this is a massive overestimate. :)

If you are trying to use the site around that time and it’s not there, DON’T PANIC! I’ll be doing plenty of that for both of us. :)



WordPress 4.3.1


WordPress 4.3.1 has been released. Downloads and changelogs in the usual places.

Hopefully, by the time you read this your site will have automatically been upgraded and you’ll have nothing to do, except maybe update a few plugins. :)

I’ve noticed the navigation from the previous release would sometimes go a little “squiffy” in Chrome. Hopefully that will be sorted now. Of course, if it was a Chrome thing, maybe not. :)



Fedora 22/23 and Oracle 11gR2/12cR1


linux-tuxAs always, installations of Oracle server products on Fedora are not a great idea, as explained here.

I was reading some stuff about the Fedora 23 Alpha and realised Fedora 22 had passed me by. Not sure how I missed that. :)

Anyway, I did a run through of the usual play stuff.

While I was at it, I thought I would get the heads-up on Fedora 23 Alpha.

The F23 stuff will have to be revised once the final version is out, but I’m less likely to forget now. :)

I guess the only change in F22 upward that really affects me is the deprecation of YUM in F22 in favour of the DNF fork. For the most part, you just switch the command.

yum install my-package -y
yum groupinstall my-package-group -y
yum update -y

dnf install my-package -y
dnf groupinstall  my-package-group -y
dnf group install  my-package-group -y
dnf update -y

This did cause one really annoying problem in F23 though. The “MATE Desktop” had a single documentation package that was causing a problem. Usually I would use the following.

yum groupinstall "MATE Desktop" -y --skip-broken

Unfortunately, DNF doesn’t support “–skip-broken”, so I was left to either manually install the pieces, or give up. I chose the latter and use LXDE instead. :) F23 is an Alpha, so you expect issues, but DNF has been in since F22 and still no “–skip-broken”, which I find myself using a lot. Pity.



Windows 10 Again


DiagnosticsI wrote a few months ago about having a play with Windows 10 (here).

I’m visiting family today, catching up on all the Windows desktop (and mobile phone) support that I missed while I was away.

I purposely postponed the Windows 10 update on the desktops before I went away, but now I’m back I did the first of them.

The update itself was fine, but it did take a long time. Nothing really to write home about.

I’ve installed the latest version of Classic Shell on the machine, so the experience is similar to what they had before, Windows 8.1 and Classic Shell, which felt like Windows 7. :)

I’ve also switched out their shortcuts from Edge (Spartan) to Internet Explorer 11. They already use a combination of IE, Firefox and Chrome, so I didn’t want to add another thing into the mix. Also, the nephews use the Java plugin for some web-based games, so it is easier to leave them with IE for the time being. Maybe I will introduce Edge later…

So all in all, the user experience is pretty much unchanged compared to what they had before. I guess I will see how many calls Captain Support gets over the coming weeks! :)



WordPress 4.3 “Billie”


WordPress 4.3 “Billie” has arrived.

I was on my blog admin pages doing something else and I noticed the update was available before the auto-updater kicked in and updated the site automatically, so I gave it a nudge and now I’m upgraded.

Like most of the recent WordPress updates, there is little new that interests me, but it’s always a good idea to be up to date, so whatever… :)



WordPress 4.2.4


wordpressBy the time you read this, you are probably auto-magically running on WordPress 4.2.4. :)

It’s a security release. You can read about the changes here.

Have a good time sitting back and doing nothing while it takes care of itself! :)



The Proliferation of I.T. Voodoo…


When I say “voodoo” in this context, I’m really talking about bullshit explanations for things based on guesswork, rather than reasoned argument built using facts and investigation.

It’s really easy for voodoo explanations to proliferate when people are starved of facts. There are several ways this can happen, but a couple of them that spring to mind and really piss me off are:

  • A user reports a problem. You fix it, but don’t give a meaningful explanation of what you have done. As a result, the user is left to “make up” an explanation to tell their superiors, which then becomes part of the folklore of that department. When you fix a problem, you need to provide a technical explanation of what you have done for those that can cope with it and a more layman friendly version for those that can’t. If you don’t do this, you are starting to dig a really big hole for yourself. Users will make shit up that will haunt you forever. Next time you want to process that big change it will be blocked because, “Bob says that we always have a problem when you reboot the payroll server on a Tuesday if the parking barrier is locked in an upright position. Today is Tuesday and the parking barrier was locked in an upright position this morning, so we don’t want to risk it!” Once this shit takes hold, there is no going back!
  • A user reports a problem.  You don’t do anything, but it mysteriously “fixes” itself. You need to make sure all parties know you’ve done nothing. You also need to suggest someone actually finds the root cause of the issue, without trying to start a witch hunt. Unless you know why something has happened, people will make up bullshit explanations and they will become department folklore. etc. See previous point.

For so long I.T. has had a poor reputation where user engagement is concerned and it *always* generates more problems for us than it actually does for the users. Get with the flippin’ program!



PS. Can you tell I’m pissed off about something? :)