Friday, July 02, 2004


Your call is important to us

If for some reason you have been deemed a computer guru by the unwashed masses in your acquaintance, invariably you'll get pleas for help when the Critical Need Detector in their system has gone off and the box has decided to vacation somewhere in Lower Outsourcia. Invariably, the plea will come from a cousin or spouse's friend who is completely clueless about what has happened, who will prey upon your basic good nature, take up hours or days of your time, and when you finally finish treat you as if you were released as a result of a hung jury at Nuremberg. Said luser will invariably repeat the same idiotic mistakes and blow up their system within weeks or more commonly days (if it isn't the luser themselves, it will invariably be their teenager defeating whatever fixes you've put in so they can go look for adult entertainment).

There is a very simple way around this problem. Buy VMWare Workstation. VMWare will let you run multiple virtual machines on your regular Windows box (of course assuming you have sufficient resources), said virtual machines can run other instances of Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, whatever. If you take a freshly installed Windows OS, install VMWare on it, there is nothing else you need to do in that OS other than to start VMWare. Since VMWare stores its virtual machines in a normal file folder hierarchy on a hard drive, it's very easy to just keep a golden copy of a VM, just copy it over to another folder when you blow up a virtual machine, and you're back up and running. This way, no grief trying to repair the crapware, just pull whatever data you have on the VM over to the new one, blow away the old one, and you're ready to rock again.

I use VMWare for a lot of different reasons; I cloned my work laptop's image onto it, and can work at home without firing up the laptop, I run a couple of experimental Linux images, and keep my hand in as a system administrator playing around with the nuts and bolts of systems while not lousing up the client's gear. A great bang for the buck and Recommended by The Proprietor.

I'm reminded of a call center design I worked on a couple of years ago, where said call center was indeed being sent to sunnier climes in Outsourcia (see, I'm so impressed with my joke that I used it twice). The most interesting thing was that we had to provision a lot, and I mean a lot, of trunk capacity to route calls back to the US for supervisor handling. An interesting example in traffic engineering (cue the Chiffons singing "He's So Fine", but the background vocals are "Er-lang, er-lang, er-lang"; that's an in-joke, son).


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