December Sunrise at digital.forest

The past two days have been a bit surreal. Seattle got socked with a big snow, not long after our big snow up in the foothills. The boys arrived safely in Colorado for their holiday visit to their Grandparents… but I got stuck at the office Thursday night as snow piled up all around us. The roads were insane, which I could plainly see outside my office window. A small sub-set of the staff made it to the office and it was a light-hearted fun day and night. I awoke before dawn this morning and seeing that it was clearing, ran outside and setup my time-lapse gear to grab the above footage. I decided after the sun rose to add a twist to the movie by “sliding” down the hill, making a two-layer set of movement in the video. My camera mount did not allow for smooth movement so it is not as good as it should be but I’ll get that sorted out.

Later I had to post on our support blog about our staffing situation and figured I’d throw the video on there for good measure.

My April Fool’s Day prank.

I love practical jokes, but most years I forget about the license to do them on others that is the 1st of April. It just escapes my mind until it is too late.

This year however I was inspired by something that happened back in December. My friend (and client) John Welch posted something of a love letter to my employer on his website. Basically it said “You’ll never see a “bandwidth quota exceeded” page on my site because my hosting provider doesn’t do that sort of thing.”

That is true, but when I saw it I thought to myself, what a great practical joke this will make! 😉 … and made a note in my calendar to do this on 4/1/2008.

So when people went to John’s site today this is what they saw:


That “(reference)” link on the “bandwidth exceeded” page goes right to John’s post that inspired the prank.

I actually wanted to make the joke more John-specific… like “This user has expended the maximum number of input keystrokes allowed” or “this user has been suspended for excessive profanity” or something… Unfortunately I spent the day yesterday at our facility in Vancouver BC replacing a broken switch, and fixing a broken server, so I didn’t have the time to write up the HTML. Bill Dickson however, whipped up the PHP code required to pull off the stunt, and wrote that HTML page. Without his help, this one would not have been pulled off.

I hope John liked it.

How many geeks does it take…

…to move a 6800lb (~3000kg) UPS?

Thanks to the amazing Hilman Rollers, only four and a half.

This is our new UPS at digital.forest. It is an MGE EPS 7000, which is a very cool unit. As purchased it is a 300 kVA system, but as we grow we can scale it up to 500 kVA. The battery cabinets arrive tomorrow. You can read about the UPS arrival on my blog at work.

ah, the weather…

Heard from several folks over the past few days asking if we’re under water. We’re fine… high and dry… both at home and at the office. Ironically the office park where digital.forest lived from 1997 until 2005 DID get severely flooded, and at least one of the datacenters in that area (T-mobile) suffered an outage. I’m SO glad we left North Creek Parkway. I miss the paths, and I miss the salmon in the creek, and I miss Teriyaki Etc., and more than anything, I miss Hobin-san and Sato-san at Hana Sushi… BUT I’m so happy to be at this amazing facility in Seattle. (But I digress)

Despite what the news media says, these things happen every year in the Autumn. Usually in November, but it can happen anytime from Mid-October until Christmas. Low pressure sits off Vancouver Island, pushing the jet stream south, pullling cold air down from the north… we get snow all the way down to sea level, and the mountains usually get DUMPED on… several feet of snow in a matter of a day or two. Then just as suddenly, the low moves on and the jet stream snaps back north pulling warm, very moist air from the Pacific. The traditional term for it is a “Pineapple Express.” All the snow melts in a matter of hours, sometimes minutes. It takes the better part of a day for it to come down out of the mountains but if it continues to rain while that is happening the lowlands start seeing floods.

Last year it happened in early November.

This year the temperature change was swift and dramatic. Sunday night I was up late brewing a big batch of BioDiesel. I was acutely aware of the temperature (in the mid 30s F) because I was wearing my big winter coat and I also have a big temp dial on the processor. When I pumped my waste oil into the processor from the settling tank it moved like molasses. I looked at the temp gauge and it read about 34°F (or ~.5°C for my worldly Metric readers.) There was frost here and there around the barn as well, and the gravel of the driveway made that crunchy sound like ice when I walked up it to the house. I awoke and ventured out to the barn at 5 AM to shut off the processor… throwing my big winter coat on as I prepared to leave the front door. As I stepped off the front porch my brain registered something odd. Half way down the driveway I realized what it was… “damn, it is WARM out here.” There was a light rain, and some wind, but the temperature was way up from the night before. Close to 60°F/15.5°C. I shut off the processor (temp gauge there read ~100°F/38°C… about right for a batch of BioD that had processed for several hours) and walked back to th house with the coat in my hands. Checked the weather widget on my OSX dashboard and it reported 58°F/15°C… so my guess was right.

10-12 hours later the floods began down below… like clockwork.

My excuse for light blogging of late…

Not to mention all the other stuff I should be working on.

At work we’ve been busy as beavers building onto our facility. We’ve been at it pretty much non-stop for the past year and a half, but things seriously kicked into gear about 7 months ago. First an electrical expansion, we doubled our UPS capacity. Then we started a project to expand our cooling capacity, roughly quadrupling it. That is the stuff that has been keeping me busy of late. You can read all about it here.

Theoretically this project will finish next week, but I have a sneaking suspicion that another one lies in my near future.