A Rambling Post About PAX East 2013

Each step further away from the Boston Convention and Expo Center feels like another mile closer to the real world. I can feel that same old sensation growing in my chest as the crowd of geeks around begins to thin and dissipate into the greater Boston area; it is a sense that echoes something close to bereavement. Later, sitting at Boston South Station is an eerie scene as geeks, subdued and quiet, huddle at tables or on the floor each group isolated and alone as if with the closing of another PAX East they lack the willingness to look around a meet the gazes of their compatriots; perhaps  they are afraid to see the loss mirrored there.

As usually it takes me a solid 24 hours before I can turn around and confront the memories of the past weekend. Three days of nerd heaven full of laughs, games, music, and all around good times. PAX (in its Eastern incarnation) is something quite special, yes I’m romanticizing a little bit here, but there is something about the sense of community, as Cliffy B. noted during his “storytime,” that allows us to revel in who we are in a way that the rest of the world never seems to understand. That is what PAX (and any conventions one chooses to attend for any slice of fandom you can name) is all about: an unburdening from the concerns of the outside world.

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Let’s say you have a server. This server is full of people and books and lots of other stuff. Now let us say that the building that powers your server has something wrong with it resulting in frequent power outages. These power outages occur typically when the building is not open to the public. These power outages constantly put a drain on the UPS batteries that kick in when the power goes out to the point where their charged lifespan is not nearly what it should be.

Essentially we’re playing Russian roulette with our servers. Last week the system finally managed to find a bullet.

Ok, not a problem. We have backup images? Oops! No we don’t. A previous outage (in February) took our backup service and it never came back. Pulling out some major trickery (with the aid of Microsoft Tech Support) our IT guy manages to pull the important database information off the D: partition of our raid array (the C partition and our whole OS is toast, I seriously don’t want to think about what would have happened if we lost the D:). Once we’re sure we have the data we begin to restore our system from old backup.

This takes nearly 48 hours. Once we have a viable OS and “stable” server we contact the support staff for our ILS (Integrated Library System, which store and records all the people, books, and their interaction) vendor so they can get in restore everything. Which they do…except they don’t add in any of the data we salvaged from the server (meaning our system was missing a month’s worth of data). We contact them again and they realize their mistake and have another go at it….and do it wrong again. Finally on the third try they manage to get it right.

At this point the library has been running checkouts and checkins in an offline mode (it logs the transaction for upload once the system is restored, handy but not perfect) for 4 days. By the time everything is back in, we’ve reconstituted the multitude of reports that make the whole system run it is roughly 3 o’clock on Friday afternoon. We finally bring everything online and upload the transactions (with a multitude of errors) and are finally back up and running.

Of course there are plenty of inconsistencies as a result of those errors but they are at least manageable. I should also mention that we’ve had power outages 3 more times since Friday and our phone system just came back today. We apparently have some sort of Magic Power Device ™ on order from our electricians that will tell us why the main breaker keeps getting tripped. In the meantime we are left in the wind and once more spinning that chamber.

Now I’m getting the hell out of Dodge for a couple of days. Tomorrow I head north to the icy climes of Boston to enjoy 3 days of geeky nirvana with some friends at PAX East 2013!

I’ll be back next week with some reviews and hopefully some thoughts on my 5th PAX experience (2 Seattle, and 2 Boston before this).

Review: Gun Machine by Warren Ellis

The Gun Machine by Warren Ellis
The Gun Machine by Warren Ellis

The Gun Machine
Warren Ellis
Mulholland, 2013

The last novel I read by Warren Ellis was Crooked Little Vein back in 2008 which was something of a surrealistic conspiracy laden noir that was enjoyable even if left me feeling a bit dirty after having read it. Back in January Ellis released another novel Gun Machine. My somewhat sullied feeling aside having read Ellis’ previous novel I practically jumped at chance to grab a copy when it was released and devoured the novel over the course of two days. In Gun Machine a routine call about a disturbance leaves Detective John Tallow absent a partner and with a troubling and enigmatic case on his hands: a locked apartment full of guns each one tied to an unsolved homicide case.

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Review: The Sagittarius Command by R. M. Meluch

The Sagittarius Command by R. M. Meluch
The Sagittarius Command by R. M. Meluch

The Sagittarius Command (Tour of Merrimack #3)
R. M. Meluch
DAW, 2007

Having previously read both The Myriad and The Wolf Star I jumped at reading R. M. Meluch’s The Sagittarius Command, the third book in The Tour of Merrimack, only to be stymied by its odd ebook formatting. I eventually came back to the title and powered through the short sentences and short paragraphs and as I suspected found the book as enjoyable as its predecessors. The Sagittarius Command picks up not too long after The Wolf Star with Captain Farragut having accepted the surrender of Roman Emperor and the threat of the Hive swarms bearing down on humanity. Earth and Palatine now find themselves uneasy, to put it quite mildly, allies against this new greater threat.

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