naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
I’ve finally admitted to myself that I need a single place to archive online all of my conference presentations, workshops, tutorial materials and such.

So I've set up Adele: Rolling in the Geeks at
naturedance: this is me on a suspension bridge (me backpacking)
Last night I imported my [ profile] shakal LJ into my shiny new DW, except for memories. Gosh, that importer tool is fantastic!

I've also figured out how to choose a new style and began customizing by changing some fonts, basic options, and I've fiddled around a bit with the number and placement of modules, but I fell asleep last night with my laptop next to me in bed, visions of fonts dancing across the inside of my eyelids. Whoops. :-)

I have a bunch of large and small things still to do related to decluttering and enhancing my web presence... (Am I the only person who has lists of her To Do lists? This is one of six lists I'm currently tracking, unrelated to my day job...) Most of the web-presence-related items are things that in the long term will simplify upkeep and reduce linkrot and manual duplication of content, but in the near term, it means pesky fiddling to get things the way I want them.

0. Let my LJ Flist and readers at the Wordpress site know where I've moved to, and offer them DW codes.

1. Go through my posts here and update any hard-coded links in my content that go to the version of my other posts on LJ. Scour out the linkrot, too. Oh, and update the Profile.

2. Decide to keep up my bookmarks organizing, or shift it to Google Bookmarks which won't make them available publicly, grar. Perhaps some other option?

3. Decide what to do with my LJ memories, and then just do it.

4. Revisit my iGoogle homepage tabs and clear out the tabs and gadgets I am no longer interested in or which have gone defunct. - Done

5. Because iGoogle gadgets there are a much easier way to skim news than the old system of filtered feeds in my LJ that I used to use, some of the feeds I set up here last night should be transitioned into being feeds on my iGoogle tabs. Also, add in PMI-related feeds into my Workaday iGoogle tab, since that tab is currently only stuffed with sysadminning, web design/standards/usability and computer security things.

6. Re-categorize my feeds and groups here, and continue to customize the style and modules of this DW.

7. Figure out how I want to host images associated with a custom style here (and possibly a custom style for my iGoogle homepage tabs)... I really like the look of the main page of and I will miss that once its gone. Yes, that is my photograph there, but not my theme. I do like the fonts and graphic design of that Wordpress theme from Rob Goodlatte.

8. Transition content out of the wordpress install I put up on blog content goes into this DW, Contact page goes into a Google Profile, and my resume needs a home. Low priority: Learn hresume markup, and figure out where (aside from LinkedIn) my resume should live in that modern format.

9. Don't forget the LOPSA blog I set up... I keep forgetting it's there, so I forget to post to it.

10. Figure out how to back up the stored files directory on locally. Retire the content at and turn it into a Google Apps domain for the family. Make sure not to break my primary non-gmail email address in the process.

11. Point to this DW, and then close down that hosted Joyent Accelerator server, which I wasn't really using for much anyway. If I want a place to develop new Wordpress plugins or themes, I should get a cheaper dedicated place to do so.

12. Tidy up the stupid Facebook, and figure out a way to tie it in with the rest of my web presence, because I need to check it at least every couple of days.

13. Consider learning more about Google Reader and transitioning some of the feeds currently going into iGoogle tabs into it. - Done.

14. Tell the family how to use the Google Apps domain.

15. Learn the DW styles system, get creative, and contribute some new DW styles.

16. Dust off the rust and become a DW babydev, learn the coding system going here, and get patches committed.

17. Finish my application to PMI to take the PMP certification exam. And finally take the darned thing. And then don't forget to update my resume with all my shiny new skills and experiences; it's out of date already as it is. :-)
naturedance: (LOPSA)

I found myself in a strange situation a couple weeks ago, of needing to define the term “sysadmin” for a new friend who is not computer-inclined. I’ve surrounded myself too much over the past few years with people who exclusively live, eat and breathe IT buzzword and acronym bingo, a situation I intend to bring to a close as quickly as is convenient.

Here’s how I explained what I do for a living to an interested, intelligent, non-computer-inclined person:

You were curious about my work…

When I say “IT” I mean “information technology” — computers, networks, databases, and software programs.

Since nowadays much of IT is perceived to be like city power, water or sewer by end-user customers (email and the network to the internet is Just Supposed To Work, you know?), much of the IT project management work I do with the IT teams at USC is way, way, way behind the scenes of the university. But every now and then, I and the teams I work with are a tiny piece of some larger university-wide initiative that has a significant dependency on IT and the services we provide… and sometimes, there’s a really huge initiative.

Lots of my extended family members have no real clue what I do in my job.

I sometimes tell people that I make my living “herding computer geeks”. I’m an IT project manager, and offering the shorthand humor is easier and faster than providing a real explanation, which they might not be interested in anyway. I try not to offer too much technobabble unless someone intentionally asks for it!

A big company (that has since gone out of business) made a commercial to run during the Superbowl one year to advertise their IT project management and integration services. They used to offer (on a very large scale for very big companies) what I do on the scale of the university… their commercial kind of sums up what I do: EDS Cat Herders

The word “sysadmin” or “systems administrator” may be unfamiliar to you. That was my job title before one of my very savvy bosses here at USC figured out I could manage really complex projects with grace and aplomb, could give fairly polished presentations to high-powered committees and wear a suit comfortably, and also could still get technical enough to befriend the geeks and get them to work together to help get our projects done on time. (I hand out a lot of cookies in my internal meetings… you probably wouldn’t believe how much work most geeks will do if you just appreciate our work and then give out cookies!)

Here’s a site explaining what sysadmins do, and the little holiday they’ve tried to get started; they’re the unsung heroes of the internet, and the digital effects and animation that Hollywood depends on nowadays all runs on computer servers run by sysadmins, too:

And yeah, sysadmins are geeks, and that’s kind of cool, in a geeky way:

Sysadmins maintain the big computer servers in special facilities called data centers:

One of the first big projects I managed at USC a couple years ago was the relocation of about 200 Unix servers from our old data center to our new data center, without breaking the services that our customers depend on (like email, or the calendar, or the software Blackboard that professors use to teach their classes, or the website server) — my project team on that relocation project was about a dozen sysadmins plus a half-dozen hardware specialists. Contrary to expectations prior to my assignment on the project, there was only one complaint from a customer during the entire Unix team’s data center relocation.

Before that, at Caltech, I organized a data center move of about 65 Unix servers, with a team of about three. That project also turned out OK, but I have to recommend scheduling server moves to avoid rainy days unless you have a lot of plastic sheeting to spare.

Good sysadmins bring order from chaos; bad sysadmins make huge messes that give good sysadmins headaches and nightmares like you wouldn’t believe:

If you want more nitty-gritty info on the profession, check out (that page is rather dry and dull, though).

Even though I’m now a project manager and am slowly building my connections in that professional PM community, I’m still active in the professional community of sysadmins, and I’ve got some friends across the globe in an organization called LOPSA (the League of Professional System Administrators) that I see once or twice a year at technical conferences.

LOPSA teams up every year with various conferences, including the sizable one put together by the open-source computing community in Los Angeles called SCaLE (Southern California Linux Expo)… that’s the conference I’m volunteering at on the weekend of February 20-22. My friends Jesse and Chris are teaching classes for LOPSA at the conference.

Your home computer is probably running Windows, or is a Mac. Do you know what Linux is? It’s a computer operating system (sometimes called an “OS”), like Windows or MacOS (one of which is the operating system that your home computer runs). Linux is an open-source variant of Unix, which is yet another operating system. Most of the really big computer servers that make up the internet are running a variant of Unix or Linux, and to a lesser degree, Windows.

I know that Pixar, the movie studio so famous now for so many gorgeous computer-animated films, runs mostly Linux for their animation computers; they seem to always be looking to hire Linux-specialist sysadmins.

Oh, you probably haven’t encountered the term “open-source” before, either. “Open-source” is a design philosophy that emphasizes technical and programming standards available to scrutiny by all, and a communal development environment… basically, it’s geeks designing and programming cool software in full public view of other geeks, so that the entire geeky technical community can contribute, and which will hopefully result in better products for everyone, and give the programmers more of an opportunity to learn from each other for the betterment of all. More info is at

I hope I haven’t lost you in all this technobabble… it’s really not all that complicated, but IT does include a lot of specialized vocabulary that can sound very daunting. I’m happy to translate (from computer geek to English) if anything at all of this is confusing. If you want to know more… just ask.

In exchange, I’m sure I’ll have plenty of questions about your chosen profession at various points… I likely don’t know any of the specialized vocabulary that you use in your daily work activities, since I don’t work in your industry.

naturedance: (LOPSA)
I'm brainstorming this morning to put together a recommended reading collection for a potential student helper with an engineering background who may start working with me on information technology project management and system administration documentation tasks.

(Oh, and I joined last night -- username naturedance.)

This got a bit long... )
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
(I've been doing system administration, technical documentation and project management more than webmastering for the past few years, so some of these organizations may have shifted in the meanwhile.)

Webgrrls International: (see comments for why this is struck-through)

The HTML Authors Guild: (I think I let my membership lapse, it's been a while,; but they do have decent online training opportunities.)

International Webmasters Association:

Webmaster Organization:

World Organization of Webmasters:

Webmonkey, the web developer's resource:

Jakob Nielsen's Website:'s online training library:

CSS Zen Garden:

I've been hauling around various editions of these books for years, referencing them as needed:
Webmaster in a Nutshell by Stephen Spainhour and Robert Eckstein
Web Design in a Nutshell by Jennifer Niederst
Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Designing Large-Scale Web Sites by Louis Rosenfeld and Peter Morville
Designing Web Usability : The Practice of Simplicity by Jakob Nielsen
Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug
Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data by Stephen Few
The Zen of CSS Design: Visual Enlightenment for the Web by Dave Shea and Molly Holzschlag

plus various CSS books by Eric Meyer:
CSS: The Definitive Guide
Eric Meyer on CSS: Mastering the Language of Web Design
More Eric Meyer on CSS

plus I've picked up whatever O'Reilly, Peachpit, and No Starch Press books were appropriate to my immediate job and/or sanity needs.

Do you know of more good ones? Please enlighten me!
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
The League of Professional System Administrators... I am currently a member. This is all-OS-inclusive.

The System Administrators Guild (a special interest group within USENIX)... I suspect I need to renew my membership. This is all-OS-inclusive.

"LinuxChix is a community for women who like Linux and Free Software, and for women and men who want to support women in computing. The membership ranges from novices to experienced users, and includes professional and amateur programmers, system administrators and technical writers."

The Systers mailing list is rather more... venerable, and it's all-OS-inclusive. I joined as a member of the mailing list back in February... I only lurk, reading and soaking up information and conversation like a little sea-sponge. :-)

There are local computing user groups (LUGs) in the LA area, they're an excellent place to network among local sysadmins, especially Unix ones; I don't know what resources each group has to offer, but I collected links to many of the local Unix/Linux ones in a blogpost after I helped out at the SCALE 5X conference back in February:

There are local Mac groups which might be handy for OSX sysadmins, too:

I'm still rather clueless about Windows-specific sysadmin professional resources. I asked a friend of mine to send me some links a couple years ago, and they're buried in my to-do email box, I suspect. When I get a moment, I'll find them and post them here, too.

In addition to jobs lists and boards at those organizations, aside from two other big techie jobs sites seem to be and

These books are must-haves (and must-reads):
Time Management for System Administrators by Tom Limoncelli
The Practice of System and Network Administration (2nd Edition) by Tom Limoncelli, Christina Hogan, and Strata Chalup
For Unix, "the purple book" aka UNIX System Administration Handbook (3rd Edition) by Evi Nemeth, Garth Snyder, Scott Seebass, and Trent Hein
For Linux, "the pink book" aka Linux Administration Handbook (2nd Edition) by Evi Nemeth, Garth Snyder, Trent Hein
plus whatever O'Reilly, Peachpit, and No Starch Press books are appropriate to your immediate job and/or sanity needs.

Do you know of more good ones? Please enlighten me!
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
"LinuxChix is a community for women who like Linux and Free Software, and for women and men who want to support women in computing. The membership ranges from novices to experienced users, and includes professional and amateur programmers, system administrators and technical writers."

According to the major tech writer professional organization is the Society for Technical Communication:

One of the benefits of membership is access to a tech writers' annual salary survey report.

There are a number of local STC chapters, including Los Angeles, Orange County, Inland Empire, San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley:

In addition to jobs lists and boards at those organizations, aside from two other big techie jobs sites seem to be and

Do you know of more good ones? Please enlighten me!
naturedance: (LOPSA)
I wasn't able to figure out a way to attend LOPSA's awesome Sysadmin Days training today and tomorrow on the east coast (too much else going on!), but I will be attending the Southern California Coalition Technology Conference August 24th and 25th.

It's two days of project management meets quality assurance, apparently, and sponsored by three of the local PMI chapters, along with other local IT and QA professional organizations.

In other news, I'm really looking forward to the new second edition of [ profile] yesthattom's (and Strata's and Christine's!) sysadmin book. I've ordered it, and now can't wait for it to reach my grabby hands! *obsessively refreshes shipping tracking site*
naturedance: (LOPSA)
If a project was never clearly defined at the start, it is nearly impossible to define its completion conditions, nor conclusively state (or convincingly defend the statement) that it is actually done.

Moon Trees

Oct. 24th, 2002 12:00 pm
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (self-portrait)

From CNN, Scientists look for elusive ‘moon trees’

Apparently some seeds went up and around the moon with Apollo 14, and then came back to earth. And no one has comprehensive records of where they were all planted. Hee, hee…

Once again, we relearn the lesson that it’s easier to document something as it happens than to research what happened later and reconstruct the data!

Oh, and if you want to know more, check out this site, which has locations and more history about the moon trees… and a section on second genearation moon trees, seedlings or cuttings from the original moon trees. Interesting!

February 2017

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