Sunday, July 31, 2011

Installing MongoDB on a Rackpace Cloud server (SOLVED)

Just to get this technical note on the Internets for general helpfulness of humanity..

After following the main MongoDB instructions, I was stumped with "Error: couldn't connect to server shell/mongo.js:79". Mongod had started but I couldn't 'mongo'. This was NOT a mongoDB problem, despite all the rest of the advice on the internet telling you to set the datadir, check permissions, uninstall the packages, try a different package etc.

I should have thought earlier to use my own brain. The problem was the server's own firewall preventing mongo from accessing port 27017. Specifically, the Rackspace sample iptables ruleset does not allow an SSHd user to 'mongo': Rackspace Cloud sample iptables.

So if you followed the official YouTube video on setting up your Rackspace Cloud server you'll hit this issue. Rackspace Cloud setup video by Chad. My cloud server is Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid but I expect any Rackspace cloud server configured as above will encounter this. To save you the hours of troubleshooting I've just undergone, this will sort you out:

[After following the MongoDB 'Quickstart' instructions and the stuff on the page above, installing from the mongodb-10gen package]

sudo iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --dport 27017 -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --dport 28017 -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A INPUT -s -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A OUTPUT -s -j ACCEPT
sudo bash -c "iptables-save > /etc/iptables.up.rules"

This assumes you followed Chad's instructions (around time 10:00) to reference /etc/iptables.up.rules from /etc/network/interfaces:

pre-up iptables-restore < /etc/iptables.up.rules

Do that, reboot your cloud server from the Rackspace web management interface - and you'll be able to 'mongo' on your server (and remotely).

Make sure you add 'auth = true' to /etc/mongodb.conf (also adding an 'admin' user via mongo) so that the web interface on isn't too useful to people.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

An insight from acting

One of the remarkable things I discovered in my brief acting course was this:

"It's easier to act yourself into an emotion than feel your way to an action". Shake your fist and frown, you'll feel angry. Smile, you feel happy. Much research is available to back this up, though I'm too lazy to list it here - but today I had a little reminder from this article linked from a tweet:

"Humans and other animals express power through open, expansive postures, and powerlessness through closed, constrictive postures. But can these postures actually cause power?" The answer is "a person can, via a simple two-minute pose, embody power and instantly become more powerful"

'Power' is a tricky word here: it's meant in its helpful guise, the ability to enact useful change, rather than 'power over'.

I went into acting because while 80% of communication is non-verbal I was spending 80% of my time and effort on the other 20%, the words and the research. So my congruence and self-awareness of 80% of my communication was minimal. Bringing that forward into consciousness, even a little, has been a great thing to attempt.

Actions speak louder than words (particularly silence).

I hope to do more acting, but not quite yet.

Monday, July 04, 2011

A project manager with no plan

My second post on my recent acting training course in London, which featured the most glorious, beautiful bunch of classmates. Hello to those folk if you're reading. If not, you were the one I thought was truly awful.

We did many classes: acting for TV, a spot of Shakespeare, movement, modern plays, voice. The one that had the most impact for me was Impro. Improvised drama and theatre, rather than comedy, though we quickly discovered disturbingly hilarious scenarios are utterly inevitable.

You start a scene, standing and you speak second, never first. You act high or low status (submissive or dominant) and demonstrate with your body a simple emotion, let's say 'joy'. Another character enters, your new friend that minutes before was tasked only with a blueberry muffin. But now your new playmate must speak first to tell you why you're feeling what you're feeling. Up until that point you didn't know, you really didn't know - and neither did he because he didn't know what emotion you'd go for.

You might have your own ideas on why you feel your emotion, but you leave them aside. You accept what he says as fact: you were just promoted to captain on Starbase Alpha and you're looking forward, apparently, to celebrating with the crew down on planet Zorg, except your legs are robot legs and they're a bit unreliable.

As the story unfolds, you discover it at the same time as your audience and at the same time as your fellow actors. You embrace the uncertainty, ride the rollercoaster while it's still under construction, it's you that's building it. Your playmate may misread your original emotion, you might accidentally transplant the scene three hundred years backwards, speak nonsense, dry up completely. The scene always continues.

The story always tends toward stability: the end of something, the resolution, the refusal of the characters to speak with one another, or into complete chaos. Stability is dull. There's no drama there, at the extremes, at the ends. If you've driven into a wall you have nowhere to go, if you've dug too deep a hole you can't get out. Steering it between those magnetic extremes is a huge challenge, a balancing act, rolling a ball-bearing around a wooden maze of holes.

As project manager I plan months in advance. My job is to reduce and remove uncertainty, fight it toe-to-toe in a constant, eternal battle, day after day. I've trained and practised this for over a decade. Supplying coping strategies to corporations.

But here I am naked, no timing plan, no estimate, no scope of work, reacting now to what happened just now. As honestly as I'm able and not even as as me but as a character - a character I only find out along the way. You have to trust your team completely. You can't react to something you've missed so you really pay attention to what they're trying to communicate, verbally and otherwise - and there's no time to anticipate even 2 sentences in advance. Incredibly tricky to do right, but wonderfully exciting and great fun.

More than that, planning or being fully engaged in the present moment - which is the closer match to reality?