Long Absences and Enduring Quiet
I’ve often been accused of not writing back to people enough, at least in my personal life. Professionally, I’ve been asked quite a few times to summarize my emails and documentation. I, however, prefer to eliminate any possibility of confusion in either my explanation or documentation. That’s actually made me pretty popular in my new position.
When I last posted things were going pretty nicely – I had a decent job, my house was nearing completion, and I was all set to move in. Then politics decided to come to play. My position was eliminated and suddenly closing on my house wasn’t going to happen. Fortunately I’m in a sort of high-demand field, and in about 6 weeks I was starting at a new job with slightly higher pay, but a hell of a lot more job security. Additionally, the company decided to sponsor me for an upgraded security clearance, and when it comes through in about a year or so I can expect a decent increase in pay. More money is never a bad thing.
Through all of the anxiety preceding the new job I had the stress of the house bearing down on me. Closing was set for February 28th, but I hadn’t even received a hire date despite being promised that a job offer was imminent. Closing was delayed twice, and on February 28th I finally received an offer letter, but for the closing agent the fact that it had conditions attached to employment was a no-go. All was in danger of falling apart! Fortunately everything worked out. I started at my new position on March 5th, and I signed my closing documents on March 6th.
The last 3 months have been a giant whirlwind of activity, so needless to say optional activities have suffered. As this blog is not monetized and is more or less a way for me to vent off some steam, updates became few and far between. I had, more or less, reached the proverbial cliff and could go no further for the time being.
With a new house comes new responsibilities – I finally have a yard to maintain (which I’m fine with, by the way), plus there are small improvement projects I’m working on. By far and away the most difficult project has been the IT infrastructure. Things have, unfortunately, gotten broken in the transition, and I only find out about them when I want to use them, or when it would be most inopportune for them to go down. Last week was one such example – my ESXi box decided that it no longer needed a network stack and crashed the whole thing. I could restart the server, but no network connectivity. Well that sucked, not the least because I had my firewall set up as a virtual machine. No firewall, no network. No network, no internet. You can imagine the stress.
I didn’t necessarily want to spend the money, but I broke down and bought a little firewall micro appliance on which I could install pfSense. It’s a small little bundle of awesome, and frankly not having to rely on my ESXi box to host my firewall VM makes life significantly less complicated. Yes the appliance is still a single point of failure, but considering that it has zero moving parts I’m relatively confident that it will serve me well for the next several years.
Once the firewall was up I was able to upgrade the ESXi box and get it running again, so most of the past three days has just been tweaking configurations to get everything mostly working again. If you have any interest in pfSense I highly suggest you give it a try. And here’s a link to the firewall micro appliance on Amazon. It’s not cheap at $339, so if you find something a lot less expensive be forewarned – there’s a reason for it. The device I linked will handle AES-NI encryption, which everyone is starting to move to, and as such they’re dumping devices that can’t handle the it at dirt-cheap prices.