Recovering from Disaster Recovery

Relax, this is only a test.  That’s what they say every year.  But you know different.  Just because it is a simulated disaster doesn’t mean you won’t be stressed and tired.

Disaster recovery tests are something a lot of medium to large businesses conduct to prove that they can restore their business critical information services, applications, databases, etc. in the event that one or more of their data centers is partially or wholly taken off line by some unplanned event.

A recovery test typically involves shipping backup tapes to another site, normally a considerable distance away from the production data center, where blank servers, network equipment, disk storage hardware, and various other components await.  Those systems are loaded with the production backups and then brought on line for users to test and verify that the company’s applications and datasets are all on-line, available, and functioning properly.

I’ve made it sound simple, but if you consider the complexities of numerous different operating systems (Microsoft, Unix, iSeries, etc.) and the various components residing on different hosts (database over here, application executables over there, web front ends out that-a-way) you begin to see the massive amount of communication and coordination that needs to be achieved to restore and rebuild systems that were typically originally installed and configured in processes that took weeks or even months.

When someone tells you you have to get a few hundred of those components recovered and working at a site several hundred miles away, and you have less than 72 hours to do it, you develop a keen sense of urgency.

I’ve been watching a small army of system admins and engineers do this stuff for my fourteenth annual DR test in a row.  At one time or another I’ve been involved in practically every discipline of it, from building desktop systems for test users to configuring network devices to restoring NetWare, Microsoft, Linux and Unix systems.

The first few years I even had to configure stacked Token Ring switches and FDDI backbones, two topologies that are rusting away in the distant past of networking technology.

These days I just yak on the conference bridge, twiddle my thumbs as the tapes spin billions of ones and zeros out onto disk platters, and bellyache when some poor technical staff member who has been up for thirty hours straight doesn’t immediately respond when we call him or her.  Disaster recovery exercises are not quite as tough on management’s sleep patterns as it is for the technicians, but it is still a huge dose of stress.  Failure is a big sign that you can’t be trusted to get the company back into money-making mode fast enough if the corporate headquarters gets hit by a tornado or shut down because someone discovered an Orc infestation in the basement.

Yeah, that’s the way I’m spending this weekend.

I’d much rather be washing dishes or mowing the lawn or clearing a clog out of a sewer line.

He’s asking for donations? How audacious!

See that little PayPal “Donate” button over in the upper right hand corner? Yep, it’s there so you can send money directly to me.

Why? Because some folks might want to if they enjoy reading the articles at 4Fraziers and want to do something to encourage more writing. A person so inclined can donate as little or as much as they want through that button.

And they can ignore it completely and keep right on reading the material here with no obligation whatsoever as well.

It costs about $3.33 cents to host this site at JaguarPC.com, I’ve paid it up three years in advance to get that price. I’ve spent $70 in theme building software for it. And I’ve spent uncounted hours writing articles, redesigning, responding to comments, demolishing and reassembling style sheets and scripts, and moderating the site. I don’t do it for donations. I do it because I enjoy getting my thoughts and opinions out to other people. I do it because it is a stress reliever for me, and way of expressing myself as I do when I paint a landscape or ride my Triumph through a series of scenic, twisty canyons.

I would love to be able to do it more, and the one thing that hampers my ability to do it more is lack of cash.

Bella hopes I'll write more
It’s up to our readers and their pocket books. There are tons of better things to give your money to, such as church and charity. I’m not suggesting anyone give me their tithes or their kids health insurance premiums. I’m only suggestting that if you’d like me to seriously ramp up production here I need the cash to do it with, and I don’t have it. If you read something here that entertains you, consider what the chuckles and deep thought were worth. A few cents, a quarter? A whole dollar? Just little bits from a small percentage of the 5000+ people who have visited here since September 2009 will send me the confidence to keep writing here and letting anyone and everyone have a look with no obligation.

I’ve been running Google Adsense on this site for 2 years now and it’s made me a whopping $40.00. I can go on at this pace, just pumping out a few days of moderately interesting or amusing stuff each week punctuated by short instances of brilliance and wit or I could justify returning to my roots and reviving some of those law enforcement character comic strips that nearly got me fired from the police force along with some of the other project that are destined for this blog but being held back because of the lack of investment.

There are other methods of generating revenue, and one of the best next to people just giving money to someone because they appreciate their writing is to tell others to check out 4Fraziers.com. If there’s enough genuine traffic and interest in the site, the ad revenue will grow and no one will need to decide whether or not to donate. The site will support it self.

I’d love to become financially independent because of the gift of writing God has given me, but I think He has simply planned for me to produce what I believe is right, place it upon the table, and allow the people to take it or leave it. I may obtain enough from donations to hire a professional designer or SEO expert to improve the site, I may make enough to take my wife to a nice dinner in gratitude for the late nights I spend writing articles for this site and Associated Content, but I’m confident I won’t make a living at iit.

Speaking of Associated Content, that’s another way you can donate, only you don’t have to lose a red dime doing it. AC pays me $1.60 for every thousand times a page in any of the articles I’ve published with them is viewed. That adds up, my friend, and I am approching an average of $20 per month payments from them. I’m in a quandary right now as to whether to keep splitting my talents between my own sight and Associated Content or if I should focus solely upon one or the other.

You can vote and guide by reading my articles at AC and pointing others to them, or reading my articles at 4Fraziers, directing your friend to read them, and by using that little donate button to drop a few cents or dollars on me.

Nope, I don’t feel guilty asking this. And you shouldn’t feel guilty whether you read and leave no contribution or read and send me cash to help me run this site and generate the content just a little better.

How to respond when you are being laid off

Read the post-it on the cubicle wall...
As companies continue to look for ways to provide mediocre service at the highest possible price to customers and lowest possible cost to themselves more and more American workers are being called into that dreaded meeting with the lay-off managers and human resource hatchet men as their jobs are handed over to less demanding workers in India, Mexico, and various third-world labor forces.

Many workers fear that day, but they fail to realize that there are opportunities for them in the situation if they are prepared for it. Preparing and coaching yourself for a lay-off is not a self-fulfilling prophecy or a pessimistic thing to do. It is simply prudent and pragmatic to prepare for an event that you hope never happens, like having an emergency plan for your family in the event of a house fire or other disaster.

Companies often offer severance packages to employees who are being terminated in a reduction in force plan. They do this not out of benevolence or gratitude for your previous service. They do it to avoid higher costs in litigation and to bind you into agreements not to compete with them or expose internal company practices or other information you might otherwise legally make public. In short, it is a binding contract that buys your cooperation and pledge to not damage the company in any way.

The typical lay off occurrence involves a meeting with the employee and a manager reciting some very general statements. These statements are scripted to deliver the bad news to the employee without providing any detailed reasons for the termination. The script is also designed to quickly convince the employee to sign an agreement that includes severance pay and possible benefit extensions, along with very specific conditions for the former employer to adhere to.

Most people (more than 70% per recent studies) sign the severance agreement before the meeting concludes.

BAD IDEA!

Severance packages are almost always negotiable. Consider the package initially presented to you as an opening offer, not a take it or leave ultimatum, regardless of whether or not it is presented that way. The company will typically design their package and canned speech to convince you that there are no alternatives.

You should quietly and professionally give them indications that you know there ARE alternatives. Those alternatives can include:

  • A higher cash severance payment
  • Longer extensions on benefits
  • Waivers of previous non-compete contract statements and agreements
  • Legal action
  • Knowing that most other folks take the initial severance offer without protest or negotiation is a powerful advantage to you. Because of that the company is able to pay out higher severance to those smart enough to negotiate, and the company is often happy to do so to avoid costly litigation and worries about the competition gaining advantages or bad press from the knowledge provided by disgruntled former employees.

    The key thing to remember during this emotional event is: DON’T GET EMOTIONAL.

    Displays of anger, remorse, or (in some rare cases) absolute joy over the termination of employment will not benefit you. Demands for fairness or begging and groveling will not reverse the decision. It is sad to part company with co-workers or to lose your income, but try to focus on the fact that this is a new opportunity and you are going to get something to help you fill the gap while you search for a new job that may be even better.

    Numerous cases have occurred where employees were terminated and re-hired by the same company within days or weeks. The chance for re-hire is dramatically reduced if you cuss out or threaten the folks who are simply the messenger delivering bad news. Additionally, unprofessional behavior and criminal threats or assaults will quickly turn a negotiated lay-off into a termination for cause (firing) in which you receive no severance at all and a possible trip to jail to boot.

    Do not threaten legal action. If you receive undue pressure to sign the severance agreement immediately, it is perfectly reasonable and advisable to respond by telling them you’d like to review it with your own legal counsel first. That generally sends the message that legal action is a consideration, but it doesn’t come across as a blatant law-suit threat.

    And seriously, it is a good idea to take the agreement to an employment or labor attorney for advice if you can afford a modest consultation fee, especially if there are any questions at all surrounding possible illegal reasons you ended up on the RIF (reduction in force) list, such as age, disability, or whistle blowing potential.

    In summary, being laid off is an event that can be leveraged as an opportunity, not just a traumatic ending to your current employment.