Author Archives: Ryan Day

Installing Ubuntu: A Trial and Error Account

Recently I decided it was time to grab up a spare computer that I could use for tinkering as well as back up files from my other machine in the event that it goes down. The one big thing I wanted to do was to install a Linux OS and experience everything that comes with it. This would be my first time installing a Linux OS. I chose to install Ubuntu since it is the most widely used and has the most extensive documentation and help available.

The Download
When I bought this machine it had a fresh install of Windows XP and came with the recovery disk which was excellent because I had to use it multiple times before I got things just the way I wanted them. Since this computer didn’t have any files I didn’t have to worry about backing anything up but it would be a must if considering putting Ubuntu on an everyday machine. To install Ubuntu you need the install CD. Ubuntu community can mail you one if you so request online, but why not be a DIYer and burn it yourself? I downloaded the Ubuntu 9.10 Desktop version for a graphical install and then went straight to burning it onto a CD. This was a mistake. I didn’t figure that the piece of the installation instructions regarding running the checksum was all that important, but it absolutely is. If the download is the least bit wrong the installation will not work. I burned several CDs of a bad image. Eventually I followed the installation documentation more closely and actually downloaded winMd5Sum. With this free tool I was able to compare the checksum of the downloaded image with the correct checksum from the Ubuntu site. It took several attempts and switching to a Canadian mirror before getting a successful download. Finally I could burn it to a disc.

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Loadbalancing and its benefits

What is load balancing?
Load balancing is the practice of distributing a workload across multiple computers for improved performance. Load balancing distributes work among resources in such a way that no one resource should be overloaded and each resource can have improved performance, depending on the load balancing algorithm. Items such as network traffic, SSL requests, database queries, or even hardware resources such as memory can be load balanced. This practice is commonly used in server farms where multiple physical boxes are coordinated to fulfill the requests of many end users.

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ColdFusion for Rapid Application Development

I’m helping to write a tool to edit simple database information in a browser. ColdFusion is meant for rapid application development and is perfect for this or any small scale data project because it’s very easy to quickly make pages and is designed for use with a database.

One of the reasons ColdFusion is so easy to pick up and run with is that its style is very similar to html with its own opening and ending tags(this probably makes it easier to learn than ASP or PHP). In fact, ColdFusion is commonly integrated with html directly meaning you will see a lot of html tags in coldfusion (.cfm) pages. The ColdFusion tags are denoted by the “cf” they include, for example:

<CFFORM name=“HelloWorld”>

Using the <CFQUERY> tag you can write your SQL directly into the page and display the results by using the <CFOUTPUT> tag and surrounding your variables with the ‘#’ symbol any time you desire to reference them.

<CFQUERY NAME=“findUser” DATASOURCE=“userDatabase”>
   FROM userTable
   WHERE userName = ‘</CFQUERY>
<CFIF findUser.recordcount EQ 0>
      User Name <CFOUTPUT>#findUser.userName#</CFOUTPUT> was not found

ColdFusion is now owned by Adobe Software who released ColdFusion 9 in October. ColdFusion 9 has integration with Adobe flash as well as Microsoft Office. It’s compatible with all databases. If you are new to scripting and markup languages and ColdFusion is available to you it is an excellent way to start out and learn.

Issue Tracking Process

After several weeks of performing support duties at a larger company I have begun to wonder about support practices and what could make the process better.

The process in which I currently work goes as follows:
• Field employees call the marketing team and describe the problem.
• Marketing team calls the Help Desk and re-describes the problem.
• Help Desk creates and issue ticket and assigns the ticket to a team.

It seems like there might be a quicker option.

My responsibilities include monitoring all the tickets that come to our team, solving what I can, and passing on ones for other applications. Frequently these tickets are mis-assigned or contain incomplete or inaccurate information which only creates more work for the support team. Because our support team does not contact customers, if we need more information we must go back through the support team.

I’m sure there are ways to improve this process, but I’m curious what other peoples experiences are with support processes at larger employers.