When I stopped sleeping well at night

June 30th, 2015 by Daniele Muscetta

If you are here for IT content – this is not one of those posts. It also doesn't feature any new song and it's NOT politically correct. But it is a true story that happened to us while living in the United States.

It was Friday night. Or you could call it Saturday 'morning' – basically it was fairly late, like quarter to 2 AM in the middle of your weekend, after a very hectic week – we were finally relaxing: we had had dinner, watched a movie, the kids had all gone to sleep, me and my wife had made love and we had been talking in bed and we were finally starting to fall asleep. We both were in that in between state between darkness and wonder, when you aren't completely in Morpheus' arms yet but not fully awake either. But pretty damn relaxed and almost ready for some great night sleep…
…thump…
I start hearing noises – are they from outside? A car? People? Not sure, I try to ignore them but they kind of broke the spell already… Is anyone with military boots walking in my dream or in my front yard? Are those our crackling wooden steps to the door that I hear? I have never been scared for burglars and the like – we simply don't own anything that is worth stealing… wait, are they knocking at the door?
I realize my wife's breathing has also changed, she is half awake too, I ask: "Is that our door that they are knocking at?" – and they knock again, harder – this time we are sure we heard it right. Is this a nightmare? I try to crawl out of bed, put something on (I was previously naked)… the knocking continues and my temper starts raising as I get worried they – whoever it is – might be waking up my little daughter (or her older brothers, but she'd be more effort to then calm down again if she wakes up with nightmares…). I walk thru the corridor, down the little stair (the house was on a split level) and reach the door – still in the dark. I ask: "Who's there?" and I receive a thunder in return: "Police!".
Not sure I can recollect all that went thru my mind – now even more confused if this was some kind of nightmare I was in – and my heart started racing. I froze. I have done nothing wrong, I thought. What could they possibly want at this hour of the night?
I try to mumble something like "I am trying to open the door" – which was indeed what I was trying to do, but I was still in the dark, incapable of thinking straight and finding the light switch.
I fiddle with the doorknob and lock enough and eventually I manage to open the door on a gap – I am still in the dark indoor, and the outdoor lamp is still on and blinds me from behind two tall, dark, male figures with weapons et all… I am frightened but I nonetheless attempt to pull out a straight face and say something. In the absurdity of the situation, the only thing that comes out of my mouth is: "Whatsup?".
The police officer does not seem amused, and he asks for Joshua.
I think a million things again – has he done something wrong maybe? He's such a good boy…
I say I am not Joshua, that my son is downstairs, in his room, presumably sleeping. I hear in the back that now my daughter has woken up from the noise (and the tension in the air) and my wife is attending her, trying to calm her down. The officer explains that there is no time to lose, that they had received a call from a very good friend of Joshua and she thought he might be committing suicide because he was not returning her messages and had turned off his phone (!?). It takes me a minute to register what I just heard – did he just say that? Suicide? Joshua? What does he know about Joshua anyway? Since when is it a felony to switch off a phone? I am the teen's parent, I have seen him grow up, he's a stable boy (especially when I see other teenagers). Whatever 'very' good friend – since we had only been in the states a couple of years at that point and Joshua had changed schools in between – is probably just some hormonal teen who wants attention, I think – but I of course I don't say this. I just say "yes, I know that he broke up with his girlfriend, but we talked about it and he seemed pretty fine with this, almost relieved. I don't think he would commit suicide; certainly not for this.". As a matter of fact, the counselor and principal of the school had spoken with my wife about this during the day, and they had informed us they knew about the 'break up' and that they had spoken to Joshua and he seemed fine (and may I admit that this thing *already* looked like over-protective and privacy invading to us?).

But the police men insist they have received a call and they need to perform their duty and make sure he's fine. My wife also comes by, I tell her something quickly about what's going on, but basically we have to walk down and make an entrance into Joshua's room, and turn on the lights and brutally wake him up and have the office verify that indeed he seemed quite fine. Joshua explained he had just turned off his phone as he wanted to sleep. Thank you for coming by.
They eventually concluded there was no evident risk, and left. Nothing happened, no 'formal' consequences…
…but I didn't sleep that night until 3 hours later, and I think the rest of the family slept uneasily too.
And I have slept crap since that day for the couple of years afterwards, and I never felt safe in my own house again. Or anywhere.

How do they dare to think they know our son better than we do?
How can they listen to a report of a hormonal teen and just raid into people's homes like that?
What a fuzz, and what an annoying invasion of privacy – into my son's private life as well as in our home!
American citizens worry for the NSA but they don't worry for this kind of behavior. Most don't even seem to 'see' the issue here – the scariest thing of all is the reaction of some of our American friends once we told them this story: some of them were along the lines of "how good/nice that they came to check! Makes you feel safe, doesn't it?". And they were not being sarcastic – they positively thought that was a good thing.
You can keep that if that makes *you* feel secure.
It make me literally pooh-pooh my pants. I felt I (we, all) were at the mercy of total randomness and we had to be scared of the people around us, because they could easily be following their paranoia's and get us into trouble, with no proof whatsoever needed to initiate the process.

I had never heard of or lived anything like this. Besides in the stories of the people deported by the Nazi's to the concentration camps – in no country in Europe you get the police at your door in the middle of the night for something like this!

This type of situations is one of the reasons that made us really stressed and sick (call us over-sensitive) in the last couple of years we have been in America, and we eventually decided it was not the place for us, and we moved back to Europe. I will be sharing some other stories and reasons in future posts… stay tuned.

Back in the Netherlands

April 19th, 2015 by Daniele Muscetta

Yeah. We moved again. Back to the Netherlands.

Family Self

Ponyo, society and translations

March 7th, 2015 by Daniele Muscetta

Since I speak three languages, I have also seen a lot of Miyazaki's works translated in other languages (namely in Italian), and I can't help but prefer the Italian translations above what they make the characters say in the united states.

I am talking of subtleties here – and they are more cultural than linguistic.

Take for example this dialogue in the movie 'Ponyo' ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0876563/ ).
If you have not seen the movie – you should – keep in mind Sosuke is a 5-years old. Ponyo is a fish who changed into a human to be with him because they love each other.

[…]
Goddess of Sea: You know that Ponyo was a fish, don’t you?
Sosuke: Mm-hm.
Goddess of Sea: and you know her as a human. Your drop of blood did that.
Sosuke: Oh, that’s it! I cut my thumb. Then Ponyo licked it and made it better. So that’s how she changed into a human.
Goddess of Sea: Could you love her if she moved between two worlds?
Sosuke: Mm-hm. I love all the Ponyos. It’s a big responsibility, but I really love her.
[…]

Now, I really have an issue with that last sentence. Big responsibility? That's not how my 5 years old talks!
Since I speak three languages, I have also seen the movie in italian: while I can't tell if that's truly closer to the original japanese (but I suspect it is), the italian translation is more child-like and pure, and conveys more unconditional love. It sounds roughly like this:

Sosuke: Mm-hm. I love all the Ponyos: Ponyo the fish, Ponyo the human-fish, and the human Ponyo too. I love all of them.

I think it is much sweeter. Down to basics. The way a 5 years old kid really talks.
By contrast, the english translation is more of a 'what are you expected to be saying from society' – which, if you ask me, wouldn't have been necessary, and it gives it, in my opinion, a disturbing twist: it takes the purity out of that moment and makes it some sort of commercial deal or contract!

That 'it's a big responsibility, but I really love her' makes it immediately some sort of tradeoff… should Ponyo start having a guilt trip because Sosuke accepts the 'responsibility'?

Sosuke doesn't even see it as a responsibility! He is just manifesting the unconditional love that kids are capable of giving (and many adults forget how to, when they get later obsessed with money or other 'responsibilities').
Moreover, what about Ponyo herself – she already did a big effort herself to become a human – and that 'responsibility' and that 'but' really don't seem to acknowledge that anymore, and unbalance the situation.

I know, I am such a snob. But words are important, and carry powerful implications.

Awakening (Song)

January 3rd, 2015 by Daniele Muscetta

This has been in the works most of last year. After much pondering and various attempts to stick lyrics to it, I decided to leave it instrumental in the end.

Happy 2015!

Awakening – 2015

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Capturing your knowledge/intelligence should be SIMPLE

November 22nd, 2014 by Daniele Muscetta

Lately this blog has been very personal. This post is about stuff I do at work, so if you are not one of my IT readers, don't worry.

For my IT readers, an interruptions from guitars and music on this blog to share some personal reflection on OpInsights and SCOM.

SCOM is very powerful. You know I have always been a huge fan of 2007 and worked myself on the 2012 release. But, compared to its predecessor – MOM – in SCOM it has always been very hard to author management packs – multiple tools, a lot of documentation… here we are, more than 6 years later, and the first 2 comments on an old post on the momteam blog still strike me hard every time I read it:

whatever happened to click,click,done?

You would think that things have changed, but SCOM is fundamentally complex, and even with the advances in tooling (VSAE, MPAuthor, etc) writing MPs is still black magic, if you ask some users.

I already blogged about me exporting and MP and converting its event-based alerting rules to OpInsights searches.

Well, writing those alerting rules in SCOM needs a lot of complex XML – you might not need to know how to write it (but you often have to attempt dechipering it) and even if you create rules with a wizard, it will produce a lot of complex XML for you.

In the screenshot below, the large XML chunk that is needed to pick up a specific eventId from a specific log and a specific source: the key/important information is only a small fraction of it, while the rest is ‘packaging’:

image

I want OpInsights to be SIMPLE.

If there is one thing I want the most for this project, is this.

That's why the same rule can now be expressed with a simple filter search in OpInsights, where all you need is just that key information

EventID=1037 Source="Microsoft-Windows-IIS-W3SVC" EventLog=System

and you essentially don't have to care about any sort of packaging nor mess with XML.

Click, click – filters/facets in the UI let you refine your criteria. And your saved searches too. And they execute right away, there is not even a ‘Done’ button to press. You might just be watching those searches pinned to tiles in your dashboard. All it took was identify the three key pieces of info, no complex XML wrapping needed!

Ok, granted – there ARE legitimate, more complex, scenarios for which you need complex data sources/collectors and specialized/well thought data shaping, not just events – and we use those powerful capabilities of the MMA agent in intelligence packs. But at its core, the simple search language and explor-ability of the data are meant to bring back SIMPLE to the modern monitoring world. Help us prioritize what data sources you need first!

PS – if you have no idea what I was talking about – thanks for making it till here, but don’t worry: either you are not an IT person, which means simply ignore this; or – if you are an IT person – go check out Azure Operational Insights!

Intermittances (Song)

November 1st, 2014 by Daniele Muscetta

Kind of a trippy/house track this time. I didn't make it today… I think it has been in the works for over a year, slowly adding and removing and sliding layers… I think it's time to call it done.

Intermittances – 2014

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Markets

September 21st, 2014 by Daniele Muscetta

One thing that we (both me and Jyothi) miss in the States, are markets. Flea markets, 2nd hand markets, veggie markets, spice markets… all kind of open air markets. You must think we are nuts – there ARE markets here, after all!
Well, yeah. Sort of.
I mean, if you consider the various famers markets, thrift stores, garage and yard sales and various other markets (i.e. today we went to the Freemont's Sunday Market for example), yes there are various places where you can get either the market feeling and/or rummage in between old junk and find hidden treasures.
But… the biggest 'but' we have is that all those things are either geographically dispersed (you need to drive miles in between each of them) and even in the case of those markets… they are SMALL. You can see the entire Freemont market above in 20 minutes. It's nice – I even shopped! – but by the time you start having that cozy market feeling… you reached the end of the street, you have seen it all – that WAS it.
Seriously. EVERYTHING in America is big, but markets here are really nothing for us spoiled Europeans who have been visiting Portobello Road, Porta Portese and the Bazaar in Bewerwijk.
I mean a MARKET. in ALL CAPS.
One that you get there at 10 in the morning, you walk around a section of and around 12 you get some lunch, some tea/coffe, then you walk some more… then by 3 PM you still have not managed to see it all, and you finally give up, happy and exhausted, and head back home…
American friends – where are you keeping the good markets hidden? Do you even know what I am talking about?

Introspective (Song)

August 17th, 2014 by Daniele Muscetta

This one was written last year, in winter (November/December) but I forgot to publish it.

Introspective – 2013

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System Center Advisor has kept me busy and you should check it out

August 17th, 2014 by Daniele Muscetta

If you were one of my work/Microsoft-related subscribers or other IT geeks, you might have been disappointed this blog has only had my own songs posted, lately. Yes I know you don’t like them. It’s fine.

In general, I tend to blog work-related stuff at my other MSDN blog or on the MOMteam blog, lately. Also, several folks (in Microsoft, and from outside) have reached and keep reaching out to me for APM-related questions. Sorry, I don't work nor own that feature anymore. In fact I have not really worked on it for over a year. It appears ITPro’s and Dev’s are a still a thing over here.

So I stayed with the ITPro’s, and in the last 16 or so months I have  been busy with System Center Advisor. First small but useful things, then the complete overhaul we did the past May at TechEd North America 2014.

If you have not yet heard about it and have no clue what I am talking about, then you should definitely check it out. See the following resources if you want to learn more of what I am working on:

clip_image001VIDEOS

Advisor Preview 2min Overview Video: http://aka.ms/unrpst

Advisor Preview TechEd announcement Video: http://aka.ms/Aulpqc

Joseph @ The Edge Show showing off our Log Management capabilities http://aka.ms/R4p9d0

Advisor Preview Onboarding Steps Video: http://aka.ms/Lgt2zu 

clip_image002SOCIAL

Advisor Preview Twitter Handle: @mscAdvisor

clip_image003RESOURCES

Advisor Preview Onboarding Documentation: http://aka.ms/Wrbzug

Advisor Preview Troubleshooting blog: http://aka.ms/G04tcq

Advisor Preview Feature requests can me made inside the Advisor portal by clicking the ‘Feedback’ link Advisor Feedback

'Spider' and 'With Luca N.3' (Songs)

August 10th, 2014 by Daniele Muscetta

These are two other songs I have been composing most of last year… in vain searched for a text that would fit them, I gave up and decided to release them as instrumental.
In the second song you can hear Luca (my 10 yrs old son) playing the keyboard.

Spider – 2014

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With Luca N.3 – 2014

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