Category Archives: IT management

Becoming The Boss

becoming the boss

In the last half-year I have gone through a personal change,
Taking a new job has changed me and the way I work.
In my last Position I was doing 70% hands on and only the rest Team Leader work,
But now I am spending 95% of my time not doing Technical things any more,
And this has been a dramatic change for me.

I am a technical person, very technical, and actually even a Geek too,
and suddenly I work mostly with people, and my main function is to help them do their Technical stuff the best they can.

after 3 months I got my first Panic attack. I have stopped doing what i was best at and started doing soft skills things, In which I do not know yet how Good I am.
This was a scary moment, and I have started to question myself:
Was this the right change?
Is this really what i want? maybe going back is easier?
How can I become good at it?
what is really my new Job? what does it takes to succeed at it?

I have gone through the crisis after doing a lot of thinking and soul-searching,
and decided to push back harder, to do the extra mile and learn to be the best I can,
I have started reading managing books and listening to lectures and Pod-casts,
And all this have helped a lot.

but, I have read an Article this week that would have saved me a lot of anguish If I’ve read it sooner,
and I think every new manager should read it too as part of his early training – so you know what you are getting into.

“Becoming the Boss” by Linda A. Hill

This Article at hbr.org has resolved so many of my fears and helped me relax,
I’m not alone at this! I’m not the only one going through this process and having a hard time!
Most new managers find their first major Role filled with unknowns life changing decisions.
The new job is more demanding than what they imagined, and the skills and methods they have excelled at over the years are not relevant to what is needed to succeed in the new managing role.

The article talk about a “Gap between the current capabilities and the requirements of the new position”,
This is something I really resonate with,
it’s not learning new technologies or applications that I’m missing,
it’s a whole new set of qualities I need to develop within me, and this is 10 times harder.

Security Blanket is another term used in the Article – after switching to management,
The technical worker is no longer increasing his technical skills,
And this is a scary decision to take.

Another Hard change for the technical person when becoming a manager is the need for good people skills:
“Unless they identify and build effective relationships with the key people the team depends upon, the team will lack the resources necessary to do its job”,   so now it’s not only creating good relationships with the team, but important relationships with people across the organization is needed to succeed at the job.

I recommend reading this to everyone who has started a new managing role, or even thinking about it,
the managing role is not what it seems from the outside, this article helps to build a better understanding of what it is and what it isn’t, and what is expected of a new manager.

This Article can be found at http://hbr.org/2007/01/becoming-the-boss/ar/1

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Manager Tools – Staff Meeting

staff meeting

Every one makes his one way in the world,
and every manager creates his own path,
but it is always helpful to get help from people who already walked the path,
and have research numbers to back them up.

So I’m searching for resources on the Managerial profession,
and Today I have listened to an interesting Podcast, or at least the first half of it,
Which talked about Staff Meeting, the importance of them,
The fact that they should be weekly – and that’s very important apparently. Continue reading Manager Tools — Staff Meeting

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Solaris 10 Service Management

solaris 10

Under the Solaris 10 system – or the open Solaris as well,
the service management have been upgraded, and there are great new tools to handle the sysadmin
work on the services.

The long detailed explanation can be found here:
Solaris Service Management Facility – Quickstart Guide

But for the fast paced sysadmin – here is the short version :)

Continue reading Solaris 10 Service Management

Implementing MediaWiki

My favorite type of wiki is mediawiki,
I love the ease of use, the huge matrix of extensions available,
and the look and feel of the wiki itself.
backup, restore and upgrade support are also very important reasons to choose a specific wiki software,
and having gone through all this steps in mediawiki, I am very pleased with the ease of use.

Starting from the begining:

what is mediawiki?

MediaWiki is free server-based software which is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL). It’s designed to be run on a large server farm for a website that gets millions of hits per day. MediaWiki is an extremely powerful, scalable software and a feature-rich wiki implementation, that uses PHP to process and display data stored in its MySQL database.
Media wiki site

Media wiki also saves the versions of the updated files – allowing for easy reverts and versioning of edited files.

The largest sites using medaiwiki:

Mediawiki large sites list

Design matters

Wiki website doesn’t have to have the MediaWiki standard look,
you can design the look and feel either manually to suite the corporate guidelines or with existing skins.

Novelle’s wiki site:

Novell wiki site

marvel.wikia.com:

marvel

Extensions

Extensions are compilations of PHP code that add new features or enhance functionality of the main MediaWiki core. Extensions are one of the main advantages of MediaWiki. They give wiki administrators and wiki end-users the ability to adapt MediaWiki to their requirements.

The extensions can add capabilities like:

Integrate into the Organization

Using LDAP we can integrate the wiki with the main active directory.
http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Ldap will show you the step to add ldap support to the wiki install,
with ldap you can have single and multi domain authentication (including local database)
Retrieval of user information from LDAP:
  • Email address
  • Real name
  • Nickname
  • Language
you can configure the wiki to allow to only domain users to access the server, and you can create wikis that will be accessible only by a specific domain group/users.
You can restrict edit access only to users who have created an account AND verified their email address.
more features the mediawiki ofers:
  • A watch list – update by email when a watched page has changed.
  • By default, MediaWiki’s page URLs look like /index.php?title=Your_Page,
  • but an .htaccess file tweak can make them look like Wikipedia’s clean /wiki/Your_Page links.
  • When a user submits an edit to a page, MediaWiki writes it to the database, but without deleting the previous versions of the page, thus allowing easy reverts in case of vandalism or spamming.

First steps with editing wiki pages

http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/MediaWiki_User%27s_Guide:_Editing_overview

This simple editing tutorial will show you the basic step in editing a new wiki page:

  • headings
  • lists
  • links

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solaris 10 and vnc

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VNC is a server client method of connecting to a remote server,
the great thing about vnc is that you can see the remote server desktop, and work on it with a mouse just like its your local desktop.
another good thing about vnc is that its free for use for many distros.

There are main 2 major software companies that supply free vnc server and vnc cllient,
the first is realvnc and the second is tightvnc , from the tighvnc site:

TightVNC is a free remote control software package. With TightVNC, you can see the desktop of a remote machine and control it with your local mouse and keyboard, just like you would do it sitting in the front of that computer. TightVNC is:

  • free for both personal and commercial usage, with full source code available (GPL-licensed);
  • useful in remote administration, remote customer support, education, and for many other purposes;
  • cross-platform, available for Windows and Unix, compatible with other VNC software.

So these are 2 options for you to download a good free vnc viewer.

Solaris VNCserver configuration

and I say only viewer because now the Solaris 10 build 5 comes with the vncserver alredy inside.
all you need to do is to configure it.

This page on the SUN site will give you the detailed explanation on how to do things and what security patch you need to install fisrt ,but the instructions can be summed up in 4 lines:

mkdir -p /etc/dt/config

cp /usr/dt/config/Xservers    /etc/dt/config/Xservers

edit this file “/etc/dt/config/Xservers” and add these lines at the end:

:1  Local local_uid@none root /usr/X11/bin/Xvnc :1 -nobanner -AlwaysShared -SecurityTypes None -geometry 1024x768x24 -depth 24
:2  Local local_uid@none root /usr/X11/bin/Xvnc :2 -nobanner -AlwaysShared -SecurityTypes None -geometry 1024x768x24 -depth 24
:3  Local local_uid@none root /usr/X11/bin/Xvnc :3 -nobanner -AlwaysShared -SecurityTypes None -geometry 1024x768x24 -depth 24
And reboot the server.

The lines with the :1 :2 etc at the beginning, are the virtual displays you wish to server to have available for connections, you can add more by changing the numbers to :4 :5 etc.

when connecting to the server with the vnc viewer you need to express to which virtual display you want to connect by adding it to end of the server’s name or ip:

10.10.10.1:3

If you want to connect to virtual display number 3.

A security note – this configuration will allow passwordless access to the vnc screen – if someone logs in and leaves it open – the next user can just enter without a login.

A safer configuration is to require a password by using the -SecurityTypes VncAuth parameter. The Xvnc(1) man page describes password requirements.

VNC and Security

The vnc as a general is clear text, for a more secure connection there is a method of tunneling the vnc through a ssh session.
2 nice tutorials for vnc through ssh can be found here and here.
the second tutorial is using putty for the ssh connection – putty is another great freeware,
its a free ssh client for windows to connect to ssh servers.

If the server you wish to connect to through vnc is located withing your lan,
and you are relaxed about security for the users on it – if its a training server etc ,
you can just setup the vncserver without any safeguards,
but if you are connecting through an unsecured medium (AKA the internet)
you better add the ssh layer to it.

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Reading Linux Email book

Linux E-mail

I’m reading a new book about Linux mail servers,
Its basically a Hands on training book for easily installing a full linux email server for the office,
The book is filled with helping screenshots and a step-by-step procedures to install the server and make things work,
some of the apps the book covers are: Postfix, Courier, Procmail etc…
Ill add a full review when I’m done reading – it looks nice so far.

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