Parking Permits and EasiPipe hacking

I bit the bullet today and bought a UMBC Parking Permit. Now, for someone who works at UMBC, this may not seem too remarkable. But, this is the first time I’ve had a parking permit in about 4 years. I’ve always had philosophical issues with the University charging its employees for parking, but that’s kinda beside the point — I originally worked in a remote area of campus (TRC building) with a lot of nearby street parking. So, it was kind of a no-brainer to eschew the permit and just park on the street. A few years ago I moved to main campus, which is about a 20-minute walk from where I was originally parking. But up till now, I remained permit-less. I would either park off-campus and walk the mile or so to my office, or I’d ride my bike in, or have my wife drop me off. It worked, for awhile. Now with two kids, it’s becoming too inconvenient. So, I got the permit. I’ll actually miss the occasional walks to/from my car, but it’ll be nice not to have to worry about getting to my office in bad weather. And, I don’t really feel the need to beat the system any more just to save a few hundred bucks. Sometimes convenience is worth paying for.

In other news, I hacked a bit on Easipipe today. Easipipe is the program that brokers connections between myUMBC and the HP3000 mainframe that serves as our SIS system of record. This is all part of the big project to move all our stuff off of SGI hardware. Easipipe is a big piece of that. It’s written in C, and required a bit of porting to get it running under Solaris. But it wasn’t too difficult after I dusted off my long-neglected C programming skills. Since we have two clustered portal web servers, I’ve decided to try running two Easipipe instances, one on each web server. It required a bit of hacking to prepare the code for the new configuration. The HP3000 listens on a total of 20 contiguous TCP ports. Each web server will use a block of 10 of those ports. The code needed to be hacked so each Easipipe instance could figure out the correct block of ports to use. Right now, I’m doing that by checking the hostname. I’m going to cut over to this setup tomorrow morning, so I can babysit it over the course of the day. I think it’ll work fine, but ya never know.