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Name: Catherine Allen
Member since: 2000-08-15 02:24:44
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Lead Unix Administrator at a large Australian bank. Interestingly, Lead does not mean that I am leading or in charge of anything. Still in a team responsible for five Sun E-10000s and lots of other Sun kit (same kit as last job) but now there's the added bonus of big iron for other projects!!

Previously: Looked after all systems for a project in the same bank, in a team of 8 doing rotating 12-hours shifts (4 on 4 off). Finished May/June 2002.

Previously: Contractor, main field is security.

No work done in open src sphere. OS advocate and perl scripter.

Recent blog entries by cla

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SAGE-AU 2002
Enjoyed the conference. Went to 2 tutes - Randal Schwartz makes complicated concepts easy and I thoroughly recommend his tute "Perl References, Objects & Modules".

Met Tom Limoncelli, who's recently written a book on Sys Admin concepts. I'm told it's very good but haven't read it yet - am hoping to win it in a current comp. Can't buy it for a while yet because we apparently sold all copies available in Melbourne during the conference. Please let me know if that's incorrect.

Elizabeth Zwicky gave an interesting tute on troubleshooting, which I also recommend. I'm hoping she'll be at next year's conference in Hobart.

As usual, there isn't any. This is really just a way of keeping folks up to date with me. Assuming people still read this page.

Volunteered as an editor for SAGEwire which is still in beta. Am not prepared to be an author, so you don't see much of me there.

Did some work on the SAGE-AU library project. Not exactly opensource but kinda close. We're putting together a bibliography of all SAGE-AU writings - conference papers, newsletters, Sage Advice, etc.

That was odd!
About a year after Ashka died, I decided I could handle having a cat in the house again, so Sus and I headed off to the RSPCA (local animal shelter) and met a lovely grey tabby who was very friendly. We trundled off to the adoption counter with the cat's number, but couldn't adopt because it was too late in the day. On a whim, Sus leant over to see the cat's name. You'll never guess - Ashka. And he was about a year old, which means he was born just about when Ashka-the-black died. That was a bit freaky.

So that we don't have Ashka I and Ashka II, I decided early on to call them Ashka-The-Black - my beautiful black-and-white stray, who adopted me when I was particularly lonely - and Ashka-The-Grey - who was surrendered to the shelter because his owner was going into hospital for an extended period. Ashka-The-Grey is a far calmer and less demanding cat. A lovely, friendly, be-in-the-middle-of-things, sit-beside-not-sit-on, gentle cat.

And odder still...
So when Ashka-The-Grey started limping, I took him to the vet at the RSPCA. A couple of visits later (they hadn't found what was wrong), a nice lady vet was telling me:
She may have arthritis
He. Ashka is a neutered male.
Not from where I'm standing
So I got her to show me and you know, she was right. Our neutered male cat is actually a female cat.

That explains the lack of a masterly gerrrowwwelll and the gentle calmness perhaps. (Ashka-The-Black was a late-neutered Tom and he looked, sounded and acted like it)

So I started worrying about that weight she's been putting on recently.
Is it the result of cat treats?
Or kittens?!!!!!

Another visit and an even nicer gentleman vet told me not only that Ashka is not pregnant (phew!) but that she had slipping patelas (one on each hind leg) and needed an operation. So in she went last week and we now have an oddly-shaved and rather bored grrlcat who is confined to a single room - which has had all high things removed, so there is no jumping or landing on those newly-fixed-up legs. Other than boredom, she's fine.

The New Job
And I can't sign off without mentioning the new job. It's mostly described in my updated bio. I'm in a larger team, looking after the same systems plus a few hundred more. Working directly for the bank now, which has its advantages.

17 Mar 2002 (updated 17 Mar 2002 at 15:50 UTC) »

Got that site ported last year - used open source - no extra programming required, in the end, so didn't write about it here.

Otherwise none.

Embarrassing what I haven't done in the past year. Working a 12-hour rostered shift is my only excuse. The hours are interesting but the work is fun - big iron - yum.


Ashka died last April, while I was working in Taipei. He was only a year old. Both of my housemates were looking after him in their own way and Sus was visiting to feed him daily. I'm told he seemed happy enough and was still eating. One day, they came home to find him dead on the side of the road. Apparently he didn't have a scratch on him, so either he died instantly in a car accident or was poisoned. I miss him terribly.

Mardi Gras

Visited Sydney again, marshalled the parade again. The party was good, but taxi services were appalling. Waited two hours for a cab before cancelling our booking. This year's slogan was Walk a mile in our shoes for the obvious reasons (after last year's law-reform wins, we've had a year of backlash... c'est la vie) and because the march is a mile long. Again, it was more political than in the late '90s.


I've moved to the 'burbs and though I miss the Toorak mansion, I love my home with Sus. It's closer to work and has roses, lots and lots of roses... and lots of space.

Long Silences

Again, I'm going to promise myself not to write until I've done some open source. Or something productive to support the community. Or if another year passes....

The only thing I can claim to have done in the last year is to present a paper on E10K to the national AUUG (Australian Unix and open systems Users Group) conference. Not exactly open source, but it was open information and people had been very interested in the subject.

At least I'm not drowning the signal in noise if I post only yearly ....

6 Mar 2001 (updated 17 Mar 2002 at 15:28 UTC) »

Am planning to port a local web community site to new forum software with a friend on Sunday. Ok, so it's not actually coding - yet. All the packages I've found so far on SourceForge aren't complete or don't do exactly what we want...

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras

Visited Sydney for the Mardi Gras and worked as a Parade Marshall in Area 2 (ie where Channel 10's second team of cameras were set up - oops) which is right at the start of the Parade route... had a ball!

If you watched the telecast, the parade marshalls are the folks in the matching white t-shirts (this year's slogan: I'd make a great mum or dad) doing "crowd control" (ie chatting, throwing lollies, keeping an eye out for crowd crush), policing the road closure ("no, don't jump the barriers and you can't just cross the road here - we've got dykes on bikes roaring through in a minute!") and keeping people entertained generally for the two and three-quarter hours between the road closure and the start of the parade. Some of the ladies I was chatting to (in "my" crowd :) had been there since 1pm for a 7:45pm start!! It was huge fun - I got to do road closure (scary crowd surge moment) and meet people and dance for hours (The Exchange had speakers out).

It was the most political SGLMG Parade I've seen in years -- the whole "mum/dad" thing in the slogan refers to current attempts at law reform to NSW family law to allow people to adopt and co-parent their partner's children.

The Party was quieter than in previous years but I think it was better organised. Maybe it felt quiet because I was there without a girlfriend for the first time ever (!) and hanging with a fairly large group of friends at a party with tens of thousands of other people (no exaggeration) gets a bit unwieldly... so Karen and I took off to explore the rest of the pavillions, dykebar, wandered round generally and left pretty early (4am I think though friends claim sighting us at Operations closer to 5:30 :) I'd have liked to stay til closing (10am) but Karen was dead on her feet and I figured that the rest of my mates were marshalling (again!) by then so I walked her home.

No post-mardi-gras hangover!! Amazing.


Promised myself I wouldn't write til I'd done some hackery worth mentioning. Wrote a perl script just before Christmas - nothing to boast about, but it's a start.


Finally back online after a three-week hiatus. Moved into a share house with no phone line (and no cable to our area) hence the technosilence. Sneakernet is evil. I had forgotten how slow file-sharing via removable media (floppies, zip, CD, ...) can be.

My car wouldn't start today (stuck in a Clearway) and guess who stopped to help - Rod Quantok! Made my day :)

We were broken into, just as we were moving in, but nothing was taken. A window was smashed and the contents of all drawers strewn everywhere, but no other damage or loss. Wierd. Deadlocking and bars are now in force :)


My cat is very happy in the new place and I don't have to hide him anymore (yay!) but the last two fish died the day I moved out of the old place. The silver lining is that I no longer have to worry about "joint custody" of them!

Penguins - no, really!

Picked up an old friend and two of his mates from the airport yesterday and headed down to Phillip Island to see the penguins. Most had fledged, but some chicks were still in their nests and we got a good look at several. The waves down there were huge!!! Breath-taking! Missed the local Pride March because I misjudged how long it takes to get there - it's only 119km but took 2 hours each way. Played I-spy and word games that we made up on the way home... much fun!

A Happy New Life

Being in a sharehouse for the first time in years has (unexpectedly) brought on a completely new lifestyle. I hadn't realised I'd enjoy it this much. Being in a non-student shared house is great!

I hope you, too, are having a very happy new year!

Open Source

Still no useful code coming outta this parsec.

On the other hand, I could tell the author of a short Python program what it was doing and why. This is impressive only because I hadn't ever seen any Python code before and don't do object-oriented code. The nice thing is that I could finally see a reason for bothering with o-o design.

BTW, python looks cool and I can now see why there is a Make-Perl-Like-Python debate. Though I'm still not on the for side.

Canberra - The Windy City

Canberra is more beautiful than I had remembered. Perhaps it was the company :-)

Did the tourist thing - walked up Mt Ainslie. I'm so glad we did that before I'd seen the hill in profile - it wasn't nearly as strenuous as it later looked from the roof of Parliament House! The view from Mt Ainslie is gorgeous - and there's so much greenery in Canberra! It's a very pretty place.

Obviously, we also visited the new Parliament House, which is full of wonderful paintings. I had always wanted to see the Tom Roberts painting of Federation and now I have done! It's as dark as it looked in reproductions. As another tourist was saying - they didn't have any artificial light in 1901 and that's probably why the painting (set in the interior of a hall somewhere) is so dark.

Went to a couple of cafes and started to wonder if all Canberra waiters are on the effeminate side... it was almost like being in a Newtown cafe!

I was introduced to a number of books during my stay and have decided that I need to join a library and start on an extended reading list. I'll do this after I get back from Brisbane next week. One good thing about not having a life-partner is that I can get caught up in my own interests without feeling guilty.


One of the books I was introduced to links depression with pessimism. An interesting point is to assume that pessimism - the feeling or assumption that one can't - is the basis of (learned) helplessness and that this may be a causal factor of depression.

It's also interesting to read a philosophy PhD disagreeing vehemently with Freud's methods and conclusions...

lilo: The Corporation As Adolescent
I agree with lilo's insight that a corporate entity is effectively a legal "person" which can display fear, hope and the need for instant gratification. In my recent experience, government departments can be described the same way. With bonus schitzophrenia for added fun.

ajv: Playing The Numbers Game
Unless you've got some proven, medical reason for getting to a particular weight, don't express your body-image in numbers. Expression of weight or self-image in terms of numbers (dress size, kgs, cms, BMI) is listed by Dolly as a cause for eating disorders in young women. I do understand you're neither female nor a teen, but that doesn't make you immune. YHBW!

Speaking of Newtown...

Canberra reminded me of a snippet of a Whitlams song, which isn't quite appropriate:

In love with this girl
And with her town as well
Walking 'round the rainy city
What a pity there's things to do at home...

If you haven't heard it - pick up the MP3 from their web site.

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