February 19, 2001: Web Design

Ok llamas, I decided that after having had our servers down for part of the weekend, we should go to the new format that I have been working on. You llamas out there will have to let us know whether or not you think that it is cool. Loopy and I think that the new look of the site totally rocks! Nate and Bob haven’t had a chance to see it yet, it will be a surprise. We have a brand new digital camera so don’t be surprised if cool new images start coming soon. I don’t get too much opportunity to do web design so this was kind of fun. Most of my personal work on the web includes compliance issues and server administration. It is fun to do design sometimes.

You can check out one of the pages that Loopy and I have made at www.WasteWatcher.org. This was our first commercial site and we still administer it today. In addition to the new look of our site, we are hoping that our new format allows for easier navigation of the site. We have noticed that many of our surfers never noticed that we had links going to more pages. So now, everything is in text over there on the left so that you can find it easily. And, the average download time of this page should be screaming fast compared to the old graphic one. We have a fast connection here in our Ithaca office and sometimes we forget that many of you are still using dial-up connections to get to the internet 🙁  So, this should make visiting our site more enjoyable for many of you. Plus, new upgrades were added to our web servers this weekend and there should be a slight reduction in latency from our new drive subsystem (in case you were wondering what gets done around here on the weekends.) For you gear-heads out there, we added a new RAID 5 subsystem to our main web server as well as eased back on our bandwidth throttling for BITS [Later, SGL]  so that our users get a more pleasent surfing experience. For you high-bandwidth users, you should notice a significant increase in speed on the site and everyone should notice a little bit of reduced latency (the time it takes from the time you ask for the page until the time that you start to get it.) Plus, our new page design loads much, much faster than the old one.

Another exciting weekend for Loopy, Joey Llama (Bob Winans) and I as we drove down to Washington, DC to work. Loopy and Bob got introduced to my favorite bar tender, JJ, who works at Island Jim’s in Brookland. If you are ever in DC and have a hankering for unusual seafood dishes, that is the place to try. Tell JJ that Scott from “Sheep Guarding Llama” sent you! JJ is there on Tuesday through Saturday evening after about 5:00 pm. Island Jim’s is closed on Mondays. Most of our weekend was spent working at the office at Washington Hospital Center. The servers that run our lovely site are located there.

February 17, 2001: Bar Fun in Washington

Today was our big “data centre” upgrade day. Andrew West and Bob Winans drove down to Washington, D.C. with me last night. This was Bob’s first trip to Washington to see where Andy and I have been working for the past year.

Our project for this weekend was to work on a system upgrade for the servers located at Washington Hospital Center. We have a small “data centre” there that has housed our main servers since they relocated from the University of Rochester several months ago. Rochester was more convenient but the space that we have here in Washington is much better and has allowed for greater expansion.

We would have crashed last night at the condo that John Nicklin rents from our friend Rob in Arnold, Maryland. This would have been Andy’s first trip to the condo. All of his former trips to Washington would have been based out of the Extended Stay Suites hotel in Alexandria, Virginia.

The office was hot and very uncomfortable even though it is February and cold outside. Nothing makes the office here cool in any way. Jonathan Stagno, who was living in Pasadena, Maryland at the time, came out to Washington to help out on the project as well. This is, I believe, the only time that Andy or Bob have seen Jonathan as of December, 2007 when I am writing this update.

The work went well. I no longer know all of the work that was done but I do know that this was the weekend that we did some major hardware upgrades to our primary Windows NT 4 IIS 4 Server (a.k.a. “Vienna”.) We added three additional 9GB SCSI hard drives and moved the machine from a straight drive to software based RAID 5 for speed and protection. “Vienna” was one of the two Compaq Proliant 800 servers that Andy and I used in Pittsburgh in March, 2000. At this time it was also upgraded from 128MB to 1GB of memory which helped a lot.

After our day of work in the office we left Stagno to return home and Bob, Andy and I met up with John Nicklin, Rob and Trish at O’Laughlin’s in the Bay Green Plaza in Arnold, MD.  It was quite the party.  We even managed to convince a “not too with it” Andy that he had run up a $500 bar tab (a fake provided for effect by the manager) and that Andy had to cover it if he didn’t manage to get a girl at the bar to kiss him.  The girl was there with a very large male friend who was in on the gag and hilarity ensued.