Farewell Speech (Tech Issues)

Below is the soft copy of my farewell speech on tech issues.

Good evening everyone. Carry forward the legacy left by one of our seniors, I am going to narrate a short story.

There was a boy, by name OMI, who came to IIIT without having any background in computers. He used to spend all this time in workspace exploring Linux usually at the cost of missing his lectures and even meals. Inspired by the works done by Nirnimesh, SMR etc., over a period of two years, after struggling, only as he could have done, he climbed onto the post which he always wanted, the sysadmin of IIIT.

Today I would like to speak about a few topics. The first one among them is my experiences as a sysadmin.

Our network is not ready to take the ever increasing load. The old wifi infrastructure has already crossed its End Of Life period. Also, the network is not properly planned which increases the time required to solve the issues. For example, it took several days to fix the network loop problems in different research centers last year.
Though we use open source to cut down our IT budget, we don’t make the best use of it.
The process of getting things done is slow. For example, we have not been able to narrow down on buying a firewall since last six months.
Now coming to the people part of it, the server room staff is generally co-operative but the problem lies with the administration mostly because of the slow decision making.
Within the administration, there is lot of interference by the people who don’t have adequate background in related fields.
Most of the time server room staff do the work they should not like asset management. Why a person who spent all his life in exploring technology should count number of computers in your lab?

Now, I’ll talk about the changes I tried to bring about and problems I faced.
There has always been an invisible gap between students and server room server room administration. It wasn’t very easy to convince people to stop treating the other end as enemy.
It was my top priority to restore the faith of administration in students so that more students can be brought into administration process.
Different research centers manage their own servers which poses a great difficulty for the server room staff to assist them. Everybody having their own network eventually increases the security loopholes as well. We tried to reduce the decentralization. Research centers are not usually ready to give up the rights easily but slowly things are changing and we have already moved few servers back to server room.
Since our network is growing, the policies that have been in place for past few years are becoming obsolete. We are in process of revisiting the different policies.

I’ll conclude by mentioning few key points. We urgently need to renovate the existing infrastructure otherwise there will be chaos. There is a need to invest more funds in IT infrastructure as its the backbone of the institute and it should not be seen as a burden. Gear up the approval process. We should be more transparent with students while forming the new policies.

I would like to thank IIIT for giving the students an opportunity to be involved in system administration and I hope the future batches will take this up as a serious job.

Thank You!

 

Condition for a getting a degree

So far the day has been really frustrating for me. I WONDER how people really manage to get a graduate/postgraduate degree when they don’t even know how to use a browser or how to look up ip address of a domain name or how to write an email ??? The institute should consider putting up a course in the final sem in which they’ll check the following

  • The student knows how to use a browser.
  • He/she knows how to bypass the proxy server for an IP range or domain names.
  • He/she knows how to find out the IP address of a domain name.
  • He/she knows what is https.
  • He/she knows that if ssh is blocked it means if he/she tries to access the server via ssh access will be denied. And server can only display text and it will not cry/shout “Access denied”.
  • He/she can find out the IP address of his/her own machine.

This post was written after all the frustration caused by the reason you know. Never mind 😐

 

Freaking 50 hours

All this started after returning from dinner at around 8:00PM on August 19.

August 19 – 08:30PM – 10:30PM : Slept.

I woke up at 10:30PM and started browsing random stuff. Gave a finishing touch to GSoC project – IntelligentMirror and announced the release for testing.

August 19 – 10:30PM – 12:30PM : Browsing + Blogging + Browsing.

After that its time for some refreshments.

August 20 – 12:30PM – 02:00AM : Snacks + Toasts.

Then started the same old thing. Browsing. Why the heck we have to browse all the stuff in this world which has no meaning 😐 Also, I had to prepare for my presentation about SMTP protocol in Topics of Information Security class. So, downloaded all the RFCs (thats what we do all the time. download all the academic stuff and feel good about it. Who has time to open and read them 😛 ). Read a bit of stuff from the RFCs.

August 20 – 02:00AM – 07:00AM : Browsing + Reading RFCs + Browsing.

If you are up till 7AM, breakfast is worth a try. Had a breakfast which was good eventually.

August 20 – 07:30AM – 08:00AM : Breakfast.

After that, I though I would go to bed and will sleep for sometime. But then Internet is a real devil which will not let you sleep. Started browsing again and checking everyone’s status message. Reading blogs and some more blah blah. For god sake, don’t put links like this in your status messages.

August 20 – 08:30AM – 12:30PM : Browsing + Fantastic Contraption + Browsing

If you are up till 12:30PM, its good to have lunch before you go to bed 😀

August 20 – 12:30PM – 01:30PM : Lunch.

After lunch, I was desperate to sleep. But then I had this class called “Music Appreciation” at 5PM. I was afraid of losing an attendance and didn’t sleep. I read RFCs in the meantime. No browsing this time 😀

August 20 – 02:00PM – 04:30PM : Reading RFCs. No bc.

At around 4:45PM we rushed to coffee shop and then to class. After reaching the class, we realized that prof will not turn up and class stands canceled.

August 20 – 04:30PM – 05:20PM : Coffee shop + Class.

While returning from class, I just wanted to visit server room to see whats going on (actually the network was fluctuating really badly and just wanted to know what exactly is going on. I am a student sysadmin, so kinda concerned about these issues). But I came to know, some serious problem has occurred due to real heavy broadcast from few research labs. Sysadmins were zeroing on the problem. I suddenly forgot about sleeping and all. There may not be a better opportunity to learn how to configure a switch and how to debug a network problem. I was lost somewhere in the switches and servers and I realized it was 7:00 by the time admins sorted out the problem.

August 20 – 05:30PM – 07:00PM : Server room (real good experience. Learnt a bit about how to configure switches 😀 )

By the time, I left server room it was almost 7:30PM. So just rushed to Yuktahaar to have food. Had some good food. Yuktahaar is probably the only mess in the campus where you can actually eat something.

August 20 – 07:30PM – 08:00PM : Dinner.

As I had to give the presentation on SMTP the next morning, thought of reading some more stuff quickly. Read up to 9:00PM. At this time, I was *REAL* desperate to go to bed. But at about 9:19PM, Himank called up and told about bloggers meet. I was like WTF. Well I wanted to attend the meeting and rushed to main building. Meeting went upto 10:30PM. The meeting was real fun and it was a good experience to meet all the bloggers from my batch. We decided few things to promote blogging in IIIT. Find the details in the link in next line.

August 20 – 08:30PM – 10:30PM : Reading RFCs + Bloggers Meet.

After returning from the meeting, I though of finishing the RFCs and preparing the presentation. But RFCs was a lot more than I assumed, so reading went upto 1:30AM. Prepared the presentation.

August 20 – 10:30PM – 01:30AM : Reading RFCs + Preparing presentation.

I was about to sleep and suddenly Rishabh appeared and now there is something with proxy :( We discussed about the proxy and other misconfigurations for almost 1 hour.

August 21 – 01:30AM – 02:30AM : Discussion about proxy.

I went to bed at 2:30AM. Felt a bit relaxed. But couldn’t sleep. Why?? I was feeling hungry :( Get up at 2:45AM and rushed to Deepak’s room for having some snacks.

August 21 – 02:30AM – 03:00AM : Snacks + Toasts.

I was in my room at 3:00AM trying to analyze the situation. “If I go to bed now, I’ll not be able to wake up for 8:30AM class and the whole idea of preparing the presentation will be wasted. Should I sleep or not??” Went to bed but got up again in 15 minutes thinking that its impossible to wake up for the class(lack of confidence??). Browsed stuff for sometime and then had a look at the servers. And this time mailman was not working on the students server. Mails to students mailing list was not being delivered. Tried to debug that for almost 2 hours, but all in vain. Monitored servers for sometime and some more browsing. Please forgive me for sending all the test mails :)

August 21 – 03:00AM – 06:30AM : Mailman debugging + Server monitoring + Browsing.

By 6:30AM, I was like “I’ll die if I don’t sleep. But if I sleep, I’ll miss the class. WTF :(( “. I finally decided to sleep. But scheduled alarms at full volume on my computer. Scheduled high beat songs(shell scripting rocks 😀 ). And decided to sleep on the chair itself as its difficult to get out of bed.

August 21 – 06:30AM – 07:45AM : Sleeping (on chair :( )

Woke up at 7:45AM and rushed to mess at around 8:00AM.

August 21 – 08:00AM – 08:20AM : Breakfast. OBH mess serves the worst breakfast you can have. They server chowmin in breakfast. I AM NOT KIDDING.

Now starts the actual hectic session. Continuous class upto 1:00PM. whoaaaa!!!!!

August 21 – 08:30AM – 10:00AM : Topics of Information Security Class.

August 21 – 10:00AM – 11:30AM : Systems and Network Security Class.

August 21 – 11:30AM – 01:00PM : Numerical Analysis. This class may be suicidal if you haven’t slept for almost 36hours. Caution next time.

Time for lunch.

August 21 – 01:00PM – 01:30PM : Lunch @ Yuktahaar.

I would have gone to room for sleeping now. But mailman is still not working and students are missing their mails :( Went back to server room. Did ad-hoc management to bypass mailman for temporary mail delivery. Fixed few other things.

August 21 – 01:30PM – 03:30PM : Server room.

Now we had a Infrastructure team meeting at 3:30PM. Was good. Discussed about a lot of issues and how do we replace old infrastructure in a systematic manner.

August 21 – 03:30PM – 04:30PM : Infrastructure Team Meeting.

As its almost 5PM again, time for three hours long “Music Appreciation” class.

August 21 – 04:30PM – 07:00PM : Coffee shop + Music Appreciation class.

Enough is enough. I *MUST* sleep now. Returned to room quickly ignoring the dinner and went to bed thinking that I’ll sleep for at least 14-16 hours (normally I sleep for 12-14hours at a stretch). But who knew that its not possible. I wake up at 12:30.

August 21 – 07:30PM – 12:30AM : Sleeping (in bed 😛 )

Woke up at 12:30AM. And Internet is here again. Browsing. Browsing. Browsing. Browsing. Browsing. And blogging. BTW, a newer version of youtube cache is available now.

August 22 – 12:30AM – 01:30AM : Browsing + Blogging.

Was feeling real hungary. Rushed to Deepak’s room for snacks and toasts.

August 22 – 01:30AM – 02:30AM : Snacks + Toasts.

Browsing again. And I have been writing this god damn post since half an hour. Its almost 3:30AM now and I am thinking of going to bed again. Hopefully I’ll sleep well this time 😀

August 22 – 02:30AM – 03:30AM : Blogging.

Previous two days was really hectic. No? Well, I can’t really take more than that. I think my biological clocks are out of synch. Need a break.

PS1 : Change your status messages frequently. Don’t bore me.

PS2 : Need to blog more frequently. Have a lot of stuff to blog about. This sem is real happening.

PS3 : Have two courses on security this sem. Wish me luck 😀