Awesome Conferences

March 2011 Archives

Now that I'm comfortable with Python I've written down all the things that, as a Perl programmer, I wish someone had told me early on.

It seems that all the Python books are written for normal people, not those who have Perl embedded in their DNA so hard that it is difficult to think any way else. I hope this helps other people in my situation:

Posted by Tom Limoncelli

[If you are involved in UX, UI or human factors as applied to system administration...]


ACM Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction for Management of Information Technology (CHIMIT 11) December 4, 2011 -- Boston, MA, USA Web site:

TIMETABLE Paper submissions due: May 29th, 2011 Paper submission notifications: July 29, 2011 Posters and Presentations of Previously Published Work submissions due: September 8, 2011 Posters and Presentations of Previously Published Work submissions notifications: September 16, 2011 Camera-ready papers due: September 16, 2011

OVERVIEW Information Technology (IT) is central to modern life. From our homes to our largest enterprises, we are surrounded by software and hardware systems that support our work and personal lives: wireless access points, network routers, firewalls, virus scanners, databases, web servers, storage and backup systems, etc. These systems exist to allow us to work, communicate, and provide value to society in general by supporting us as we manage inventory, interact with friends or customers, or sell products through websites. Yet all too often, managing the underlying IT infrastructure takes time and resources away from the real work at hand. The size and complexity of modern infrastructures is increasing rapidly, and successful systems management involves a complex blend of technical and human issues. We are now at a turning point where further advances in technology, business efficiency and growth require fundamentally new approaches to IT system design, management, and services.

The CHIMIT symposium has been held annually since 2007 and it provides a unique opportunity for researchers and practitioners to meet and share issues, solutions, and research in this area. It is intended to foster collaboration between researchers in fields such as human-computer interaction, human factors, and management and service sciences, and practitioners in the management of large IT systems.

We designed the symposium program to include one day of technical presentations and papers, followed by a one-day workshop in conjunction with the LISA 2011 conference. This will provide an opportunity for in-depth discussions with highly experienced system administrators.

TOPICS Submission topics include, but are not limited to: - User studies of IT infrastructure management in context, exposing user needs, pain points, work practices, and examples of both successful and unsuccessful work. - Design approaches to bring about improved, human-centered IT systems. - Experience reports by practitioners and researchers. - Case studies on specific aspects of IT management. - Experimental studies on the usage of new or existing IT systems. - Tools and techniques for improved administration, e.g., visualizations of system behavior, or collaborative interfaces. - Automation approaches to reduce administration workload or improve productivity. - Computer supported cooperative work -- how do those who manage an organization's IT interact with the users they support, their technical community, and other stakeholders? - Organizational knowledge -- how can shared knowledge improve IT management. - Processes and practices -- examples of best practices and improved processes in IT management. - New technologies -- how will the changing technological landscape (e.g., cloud computing, pervasive mobile devices, etc.) affect IT management? - IT beyond the enterprise -- what are the implications now that we're doing backups, network configuration, etc. in the home?

(Complete announcement including organizing committee)

Posted by Tom Limoncelli

I'll keep it brief:

My new half-day time management class: $449 -- Apr 29 -- includes conference admission, all meals, and other training -- (discount ends Apr 4)

Posted by Tom Limoncelli

Episode 152 ( includes an interview with me about the Time Management class I'll be teaching April 29th at LOPSA PICC in New Brunswick, NJ. (as previously mentioned)

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Time Management

Coworker evaluating a stack of resumes: "This guy blatantly lies on his resume. Nobody has 15 years of Perl experience!"

Me: Um... I do.

C.e.a.s.o.r: What?

Me: (thinks a bit) 1991. Either July or August. Perl was at 4.032 or 4.033 if I recall. That would be (thinks for a second) 19 years!

C.e.a.s.o.r: (look on his face of shock and horror) Oh. I guess he isn't lying.

Me: Damn kids! Get off my lawn!

(this happened last year... I delayed this post so-as to obscure any possibility of identifying information)

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Funny

[ I'm forwarding this invitation because I know a lot of readers are in San Jose. Also, Prof. Nicole Velasquez (Pepperdine University) will be speaking and she does some awesome sysadmin research! ]

Taos is hosting a very special gathering for women in technology. If you know Perl is more than just a pretty necklace, then we want to meet you! Whether you're a system or network administrator or a Project Manager, we welcome all of you to a networking opportunity on Thursday, March 31, from 6-8 PM that will be held at FAZ Restaurant (1108 North Mathilda Avenue, Sunnyvale). This gathering is the first of its kind to exclusively promote and recognize the talented community of women in technology. According to the last SAGE survey, less than 10% of sysadmins in the industry are women. Studies of women in engineering also suggest that we interact more with colleagues and do more "invisible" work. Join us as we discuss how to make that essential work more visible to our colleagues.

(click to read more)

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Women in Computing

The generous early-bird discount for LOPSA PICC ( goes away on April 4th. This is a good time to talk with your boss about sending you while he/she can save money.

Registration information is here:

This is the absolute least expensive way to get my time management training. There is a heck of a lot of other great training and talks planned. I hope to see you there!

Speaking of the conference...

Read this (brand new!) interview with William Bilancio. He is one of the PICC organizers.


P.S. I'll be interviewed on Episode 151 of the (Mind Of Root Podcast]( I'll let you know as soon as it comes out!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Conferences

Great news from LOPSA!

"Every person who comes to PICC11 will receive [AA Console]( (which used to be named Admin Arsenal) PLUS they're also throwing in a copy of [PDQ Deploy Pro]( Together, this is a $500 value for absolutely nothing except showing up to a conference you wanted to attend anyway."

Very impressive!

Time to register, eh?

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Conferences

Thought for the day.

In one of Isaac Asimov's books, he foresees a day when telecommunications becomes so inexpensive that it becomes essentially flat-rate; for a monthly charge we can call anywhere in the world and talk all we want. As a result, people do begin to talk to others around the world. This breaks through the artificial walls to communication created by politics and we see that everyone is the same around the world. Soon, world peace is achieved. In the story, this happens around 2000.

It was about 2000 at which point internet use was a big part of our lives and, usually, was flat-rate. Thus, if you accept that "telecommunications" includes the internet, his prediction of flat-rate global communication has come true.

We use github and and other systems to collaborate globally without realizing how amazing that it. In 1999-2001 when Christine and I wrote TPOSANA the publisher was amazed at how we did all our collaboration over the internet; it was still a relatively new thing. Today we take it for granted.

When I see a project like Playing For Change it makes me optimistic about the other part of Asimov's prediction:

Posted by Tom Limoncelli

Thanks, NYLUG!

I had a great time speaking at NYLUG last night! If you are in the NYC area I highly recommend you check out this great Linux Users Group!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli

Tom will talk about why sysadmins are bad at time management and why it usually isn't your fault. Tom will present his "Top 5" time management tips for better time management, and take Q&A about time management, system administration, and what its like to work at Google.

Help me fix the "awesome sysadmin conferences" box on so it works better when the window is narrow. (or other suggestions on how to make it look better)


Update: Fixed thanks to morgan!.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Site Announcements

Don't feed the trolls

"Dealing with Internet Trolls - the Cognitive Therapy Approach" is a "must read" article for anyone that deals with trolls in chat rooms, bulletin boards, and so on.

The strategy comes from Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, which is a self-help book that I highly recommend. In fact, I recommend this book in both TPOSANA and TM4SA.

Feeling Good suggests this strategy as a way for people dealing with periods of depression can deal with criticism. It works surprisingly well when dealing with trolls too.

The full article is here:

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Links

Tonight at NYLUG: Me!

If you are in the NYC area, come check it out.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011, 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

IBM, 590 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10022

I will present his "Top 5" time management tips for better time management, and take Q&A about time management, system administration, and what it's like to work at Google.

And I might have a surprise.

NOTE: You have to pre-register.

If you are in the NYC area, come check it out.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011, 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

IBM, 590 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10022

I will present his "Top 5" time management tips for better time management, and take Q&A about time management, system administration, and what it's like to work at Google.

And I might have a surprise.

NOTE: You have to pre-register.


  • Presentations, education, and fun.
  • IT and syadmin (Linux/Unix, Windows, Networking & storage).
  • 2 days, 1 night, conference.
  • Low price/high value. Community-based, non-profit.
  • April 29-30, 2011 @ Hyatt Regency New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Where else can you find a regional conference with national speakers, hot topics that will help you advance your career, all meals included, and not have to travel 3,000 miles to get there?

Find out more and register:


  • "PowerShell Fundamentals", Steven Murawski
  • "Grokking Python", Brian K. Jones
  • "Over the Edge System Administration, Volume 1", David N. Blank-Edelman
  • "Internal documentation for SysAdmins", Chris St' Pierre
  • "Windows Enterprise Security", Troy Mckee
  • "Advanced Time Management: Team Efficiency", Thomas A. Limoncelli
  • "Security Best Practices and Tools for Linux", Matt Disney
  • "Workplace Presentations 101 for IT Professionals", Adam Moskowitz
  • "Backups, Archiving, and Life Cycle Management: Riding the Wave of Data Proliferation", Jacob Farmer
  • "Using and Migrating to IPv6", Robert Harker
  • "Blitzkrieg Branding", Jesse Trucks
  • "Non-Obvious Nagios", John Sellens


  • Effectively Monitoring MySQL
  • The Path to Senior SysAdmin
  • Change Management and the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL)
  • Using http Response Time Histories to Detect Problems
  • Leadership and Troubleshooting from the Trenches
  • MongoDB
  • Stack Overflow Infrastructure
  • Leveraging an Enormous Technology Community
  • Thoughts on a University-level Major in System Administration
  • Continuous Integration via Hudson
  • Lightning Talks

PLUS all attendees receive:

  • a 12-month LOPSA membership/renewal
  • a licence for PDQ Deploy Pro from Admin Arsenal(a $1000 value)
  • the awesome conference bag

FUN STUFF TOO: - Friday night banquet and movie festival! - All meals! (Friday lunch only for people attending training classes)

  • $324 without half-day tutorials (all meals except Friday lunch)
  • $524 with half-day tutorials and all meals ($449 until April 2! Register now!)

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Conferences

LOPSA's Cascadia IT Conference starts today (the training portion started yesterday). Reviewing the program grid it looks like it is going to be a fantastic day. I wish I could be there! Congrats to the committee that put the conference together, especially Lee Damon the conference chair. I love to see community-based, volunteer-only conferences springing up.

You can follow the conference on Twitter hashtag #casitconf

(If you are on the east-coast and jealous of Cascadia, you'll be happy to know that LOPSA's PICC conference in NJ is just 6 weeks away! Register today!)

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in CommunityConferences

I got an offer in the mail from AT&T for a "3G Microcell". (click for larger view) which offers "more bars in your house". It is free, as long as I keep it for 12 months. Normally a $199.95 value, I decided to check it out.

What is it: A device you plug into your home network. Your cell phone sees it as a cell-phone tower and, since it is closer to you than the local cell-tower, uses it for phone calls. The phone calls go out as VoIP through your internet connection. It works with any ISP (I have FiOS, not AT&T.)

How does it work: When you cell phone is near it, instead of saying "AT&T" on the status line it reads, "AT&T M-Cell". Phone calls that start from the cell transfer to a real cell-tower if you leave your house. However, if you start a phone call away from the house, it doesn't transfer to your Microcell.

Setup: Setup was amazingly easy. I plugged it into my LAN, it got an IP address via DHCP and "phoned homed". It upgraded a software upgrade and was working about 60 minutes later. At the AT&T web site you list which phones can use it. I was glad to see that the interface gave me defaults based on which phones I have that are 3G, thus not requiring me to enter the phone numbers manually. I can also add phone numbers manually but so far I haven't needed to.

Geek stuff: I changed its IP address in my DHCP server while it was doing its software upgrade and that didn't create a problem. To be more specific: It booted up in my DHCP "free pool" but when I saw its Ethernet MAC address, I quickly assigned it a static address. During the upgrade process it rebooted itself and came up on the new IP address and continued just like it should.

More geek stuff: It doesn't answer on any TCP ports. No admin interface, no SSH, no nothing. I like that. You connect it, it "phones home" and starts working. That's how a device like this should be. You change settings at the AT&T web site.

How does it work: Great so far! I get 4-5 bars in the house instead of 2-3 bars as I used to.

The purchase process: I took the coupon they mailed me and visited an AT&T Store. They asked for my phone number and handed me the box. It couldn't have been more simple. Actually, I was disappointed that it was this simple. (I was a bit surprised. Shouldn't the salesperson have asked me if I had questions? verified I understood what it was?)

Why is this free? I can only speculate why AT&T is giving away this "normally $199.95" value to users.

  1. First, if you cancel your AT&T contract in the next 12 months you have to pay a pro-rated share of the $199. Thus, it benefits AT&T in that it discourages you from canceling your contract.
  2. Second, for an added fee you they'll make all the phone calls that start from your Microcell free (i.e. not count towards your "minutes"). I couldn't find what the price was, and I didn't opt for it. This would be excellent for someone with a home business that is on the phone all day. I just want better "bars". I don't use all my minutes each month.
  3. Third, it takes the load off their cell towers. I can imagine a person with a home office hogging that cell tower's "slot" all day long. This has got to be comparatively cheaper.
  4. Lastly, if you have a home office and this lets you eliminate your land-line, it is money out of the mouth of one of AT&T's competitors.

Again, that is all speculation.

I wonder if I got the offer in the mail because everyone gets the offer, or did they do some calculations and figure out that my usage profile makes this cheaper for them. I wonder.

Having phone calls be "free" from the Microcell is an interesting situation. (This is the "extra cost option" I mentioned before). If the call starts on the Microcell then you walk away, the entire call is free. (Someone once told me this is due to the fact that the teleco's billing systems are so inflexible they couldn't implement the feature, so you win.) If you start the call on the normal cell system the call doesn't transfer to your Microcell, so you don't save money that way.

Some negatives:

  1. The box needs line-of-sight to the satellite for GPS. That means this has to be plugged in near a window. Why is this? 3G signally requires very specific timing and the 3G designers decided to require all cell towers to be perfectly in sync via GPS. I wonder if this means they didn't know what NTP was, or was NTP not an option.

  2. The box has to be connected to your ISP via hardwire, not WiFi, connection. I don't think you'd want to trust WiFi to your voice communication, so this is a good design decision. However, it means you'll need to place it near a network jack or near your ISPs router. If that isn't near a window, plan on getting a long cable.

  3. If you start a phone call from a normal tower and then walk within range of the Microcell, the call doesn't transfer to it. That means if signal is really bad in your house, you might have to hang up and redial.

If you receive the offer from AT&T to get this for free, there's little to lose here. If you have a home office and are on your phone all day, this is a big win, especially if you can eliminate a land-line.

More info is available here:

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Reviews

If you are in the NYC area, come check it out.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011, 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

IBM, 590 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10022

I will present his "Top 5" time management tips for better time management, and take Q&A about time management, system administration, and what it's like to work at Google.

NOTE: You have to pre-register.

If you notice there is a new conference listed on the "Awesome Conferences" listing on CHIMIT 2011

CHMIT has published their "Call for Contributions" on their new website

CHIMIT is a conference for people that study IT people, how we work, and how we can work better. It is a small conference and I encourage people (sysadmins and researchers) to participate. We need more things like this!

I've mentioned CHIMIT a number of times including a longer explanation of why this is an important area of study and reported about a panel I was on too.

This year CHIMIT is in Boston, Dec 4-5, 2011. It is concurrent with LISA so you can attend both very easily.

If you know a researcher that studies Human Factors in IT, please make sure they know about the Call For Contributions:

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in CHIMITConferences

It is just days away. Seattle-folks, don't miss out! The training program is top notch and the talks on Saturday look very interesting! (I wish I could be there!)

If your boss won't pay for it, tell him I said he/she should send you. (Forge email from me saying so. If he/she asks, I'll back your story.)

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Conferences

You are in a car, driving 60 miles per hour, trying to get to Canada.

You pass through Kansas.

You are driving south.

If you don't understand the problem I'm describing, look at a map.

Now how do you think you should solve this problem?

One might suggest that changing your speed to 30 miles per hour would be an improvement.

Do you agree? I doubt it. I bet most people reading this web site would think that the situation isn't getting better until the car is driving the other direction.

Why do I bring this up?

You've heard that the internet is running out of IP addresses, right? The last few blocks have been allocated and recycling has begun. You think that aggressive use of NAT and "carrier grade NAT" will save you. No, that's slowing down.

It's time to deploy IPv6. Really.

Turn the car around.

Sincerely, Tom

P.S. Both LOPSA Conferences (Cascadia and PICC) have an excellent IPv6 training class. Have you registered yet? Cascadia is in Seattle; PICC is in New Jersey.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Parables

Conference Box

Posted by Tom Limoncelli