The Wiki Document Movement
Ask anyone and they will tell you that I am a Luddite, plain and simple. I prefer pen and paper to electrons and LCDs every time and I am not a fan of technology for technology’s sake. I am also not a fan of poor documentation. We all know the type. The documentation that says Start the widget master… and then it does not tell you that to start the widget master, you actually have to start a different program called backwards engine or something similar. Oracle was famous for that sort of stunt. Then there is the useless documentation, the type where it says If you are still having problems, please contact your Administrator. Our friends from Redmond have heard more than an earful from me on this one too.
Back in the dark ages, I discovered a great program called faq-o-matic. This web-based tool was on the front edge of what would become the Wiki movement. It was a simple, easy to use FAQ tool that was extensible, indexed and simple to use. I deployed it for personal reason – I wanted somewhere to make notes on the various systems I was building at the time, pretty much by myself, and without a lot of supporting documentation beyond the README files that came with the code. And even they were pretty thin. I was making it up as I went and needed a way to remind myself of what I had done, if no one else. The only major drawback was the print capability. At the time, it was pretty limited, but generally we did not print a lot out of it. Most of our printed documentation was in some form of document or PDF file.
Fast forward to the present day. Documentation has made leaps and bounds forward, mostly. Bad documentation still exists, but it is becoming rare. I find it most often when I am trying to read the translation into English from a developer or development team that do not speak natively speak English – I find this a lot with radios made in Japan. The more technical the radio, the harder the documentation is to understand, despite the fact that the instruction are in English… or at least something that looks like English. But what has really taken off is documentation in wiki form. This has its good and its bad sides.
The good side is clear. It is easy to update and edit, keeping it current, especially in fast moving development environments. Errors can be easily corrected by the installation team or from comments submitted by end-users. It is a living document.
The down side, and this is less clear, is that it is almost impossible to print the bloody thing out. Remember that comment about being a Luddite? I prefer reading my documentation on paper. I am getting old and my eye sight is not that good, especially if I have to plow through hundreds of pages. Also, I tend to make notes in the margins: things to watch out for, things to be aware of, things to check, and ideas to purse later on. All of these things are very useful, but all are very difficult to do with on-line documentation. I also find that I use my commuting time for this reading and my commute runs through a large swath of cellular dead-zones where even if I had a broadband card for my laptop, it would do me little good (which is one of the reasons I don’t have a broadband card).
The other problem with on-line documentation I have found is I most often need the documentation when I am in a position where I cannot get it electronically. I am in a server room without access to a browser or subjected to filtered access to the site with the documentation. There is also the real problem of the lack of screen real estate to read the documentation and execute the commands (more common than you might think, especially when you are in an industry that only allocates one monitor per system because why would anyone need more than one monitor?).
It is not that I am opposed to wiki based documentation. I like it, for the most part. But there needs to be a way to extract that documentation into some easily printable form. Printing page after page by clicking print, next, print, next – is not a good use of time. Scaling and frames complicate it even more (and it really frustrates me to print a page only to find out I did not get the document but the frame around the outside!). I know this is possible, and in many cases fairly easy.
So, if you are a document producer, remember that there are a number of people out there that want to use your documentation. And how they use it is as important as what is in it!
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
Join Linux Journal's Mike Diehl and Pat Cameron of Help Systems.
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With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide