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November 2012 Archives

My Pre-LISA checklist

  • Get haircut
  • Print out 2-factor "rescue codes" in case my 2-factor fob is lost of dies.
  • De-junk my wallet.
  • Practice slides for the Ganeti tutorial, Time Management tutorials.
  • Reach out to co-workers about coverage while I'm away.
  • Verify flights and hotel information.
  • Pack

What's on your pre-LISA checklist? Please post in the comments. I'd like to know!

See you in San Diego!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in ChecklistsConferences

LISA is coming to San Diego, CA, December 9-14, 2012 and, as always, the committee has put together an amazing schedule of programs. Come for a few days of training, 2-days of technical sessions, or spend an entire week immersed in sysadmin geekery!

Take anywhere from 1 to 6 full days of training and create the curriculum that meets your needs.

Take advantage of 47 half- and full-day training sessions from industry leaders, including my highly rated "Intro to Time Management" and "Team Efficiency" tutorials.

Take the all-new training class "Build your own cloud with Ganeti Virtual Cluster Manager" co-taught by Guido Trotter and myself.

I'll be doing a "Guru session" (open Q&A) "Ask Me Anything about Time Management" on Thursday morning plus a book-signing at the O'Reilly booth later that day.

And don't miss:

  • Vint Cerf's Keynote Address on "The Internet of Things and Sensors and Actuators!"
  • Matt Blaze's plenary "NSA on the Cheap"
  • Selena Deckelmann's Plenary on "Education vs. Training"
  • Geoff Halprin's closing talk on "15 Years of DevOps"

As most of my readers know, LISA is my favorite conference. As a policy I don't endorse products but without hesitation I recommend attending the Usenix LISA conference as *the best way to help your career, *become a better system administrator, and be involved in the larger community of system administrators.

Learn more at

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in CommunityConferences

How to win the most votes? Let me share two datapoints:

  • The Obama campaign was lackluster and just couldn't get momentum. About a month ago he changed his speeches to be pretty hardcore liberal talking points. Suddenly the enthusiasm and polling started doing much better.
  • In the last weeks of the campaign, Romney started stealing Obama's talking points, sounding as liberal as he could be. Suddenly the Romney momentum started building. In fact, if he had kept this up or if the election was a few weeks later, he might have won.

Both of these data points indicate that to gain more votes, politicians need to "run to the left". This is because when polled on the issues, Americans are increasingly aligned with progressive principles. Yet the idea that America is a "center-right" nation persists. I think that's because Republicans strategies understand the marketing concept that to make something popular, you need to tell a lot of people that it is popular.

In the coming 2-3 years you will hear pundit after pundit saying "Romney's loss proves we need to run candidates that are more conservative". This can't be more wrong. "Consider the speaker". This message is coming from people that are conservative! Anything else would be like expecting a vegetarian to recommend that people should eat meat. It isn't going to happen!

I don't believe in conspiracy theories but I do believe that once a strategy becomes obvious, a lot of people glom onto it. It was mathematically unlikely that Romney would win earlier this year when Romney was picking a VP. If you are a forward thinking political strategiest you are already thinking about 2016 and how to move the right people into position so that no matter who gets the nomination it is someone you want. The RNC machine wants someone like Paul Ryan to be running in 2016 (assuming Obama wins) so by putting him into the VP slot this year, it puts him in the right place for 2016. And, heck, if Romney wins in 2012 he's in an even better position for 2020. The RNC thinks in the long term and has been willing to take a small loss now if it means a big win in the future. That's very smart. Any time you create a situation where if you win you win, and if you lose you win... you are being very smart. Putting someone like Ryan into a position to run for president in 2016 is especially smart: he's one of the few politicians that has the political balls to actually end Medicare, Social Security, and all the New Deal and Great Society programs that Republicans have always tried to prevent from coming into being and tried to weaken after they've passed.*

In the 2016 election both Republicans and Democrat candidate positions will be "up for grabs." This is fairly rare (except 2008). In 2016 Obama will have hit his term limit and Biden has said he won't be running for President. That means for the first time in a decades neither party will have an incumbent or a past VP.

What the Democrats need to do to win in 2016? There hasn't been a Democrat that's won without being from the south (except Obama) since before I was born... and before that the VP was from the south if the Dems won. Obama wasn't from the south, but he flipped a number of southern states that hadn't voted Republican for decades (Obama broke a 44-year streak in VA, for example) because of changing demographics.

So for the Democrats to win, they need a southern democrat to make it a slam-dunk. The person I like, sadly, is not from the south. I like Andrew Cuomo, but considering that everyone knows he is going to run, expect the Republican Scandal Machine to kick in and take him off the chess board in 2013 or 2014. The Republican Scandal Machine is smart enough to know to stomp out a problem when it is small, before it grows into a difficult to fight problem, or as the Sun Tzu says, "Anyone who excels in defeating his enemies triumphs before his enemy's threat become real." What Andrew Cuomo needs to learn is the Japanese saying "出る釘は打たれる" which means, literally, "The nail that sticks out gets hammered down."

What the Republicans need to do to win in 2016? They need to ignore the self-serving, wholly biased, conservative consultants who will push them to nominate an arch conservative. They need to run the most liberal candidate that they can stomach: someone that will not bring back the Bush cronies or Reagan proteges to the White House, someone that will have a cabinet and staff that is aligned with American's new progressivism.

The reason they lost is because they didn't run someone liberal enough. To win in 2016 the Republicans need to nominiate the most liberal person they can find.

...and thats my one non-sysadmin, totally political post of the year...

Thank you for listening.

Tom Limoncelli


  • You younger readers might not appreciate how important Medicare and Social Security are: "Go back to before Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid existed [1937 and 1966 respectively]. You have to look at the poverty numbers for elderly and remember the stories of senior citizens eating dog food and dying from perfectly treatable disease because they couldn't see a doctor. To know what America was like before Social Security you need to just think about that seniors went from being at the highest risk for living in squalor to being relatively stable and middle-class within a few generations. This didn't happen by accident. This happened because Americans said 'that's enough. I don't want my mother to work her whole to be eating Purina One out of a can in a slum house. Do something!'" link

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Politics

Time Management for Sysadmins mentions the Pimlical's DateBk software a lot. It is one of the finest time management software packages around. It was way ahead of its time

Sadly it was only available for the Palm series of PDAs.

Pimlical's equivalent program for Android is called "Advanced Calendar". Until recently the installation process was a bit... odd.

Now it is available on the Google Play app store. As a result, it is much easier to install.

Check it out here:

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Time Management