Vermont, the 42nd State

Even though I grew up in the small town of Asheboro, North Carolina, I have managed to travel quite a bit. Part of it was that I was born in Pittsburgh (and I lie about that on my credit card “secret question” so don’t even try it) and while we moved south when I was six months old, we did go to Pennsylvania several times a year to visit family when I was growing up, so I saw a lot of the east coast. I went to school for awhile in LA, so that got me most of the southern United States, and other travel has put me in 41 states so far.

A recent trip to visit a client in Burlington, Vermont made that 42. I’m still missing Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Idaho and Hawaii.

I liked Burlington. It is a bit of a struggle to get there by air from Raleigh, but the people are friendly and the landscape is really pretty. The high “hippie” quotient due to the local colleges made me feel at home.

On they way back I had to fly on a prop plane to La Guardia, and the pilot made a slow circle over lower Manhattan on the way to Brooklyn. I got to see Ground Zero from about 2000 feet as well as the towers from the World’s Fair that were featured in the first Men in Black movie. All in all a nice trip.

I like to travel, and one thing has made my life on the road much more pleasant: curved shower rods.

I know this sounds silly, but sometimes the simplest ideas can have the greatest impact. I hate shower curtains (I have glass doors at home) and bathing in the numerous hotel rooms I stay it was always unpleasant due to the curtain being so close that it would invariably jump out and stick to me. Just by putting a little bend in the rod has made all of the difference. It must be a popular change because now I rarely stay in a hotel without one.

We have always tried to apply similar thinking to OpenNMS. We look for simple ways of addressing management issues in the hopes that someone will say “wow, that’s pretty cool”. In fact we have an informal “Simple Rule” at the office: if it doesn’t make things easier for our clients or easier for us to provide service, we don’t do it.

Now I know that there is at least one of my seven readers out there who would hesitate to describe OpenNMS as “simple”. Trust me, compared to software like Tivoli, OpenView and Unicenter, OpenNMS is a walk in the park. It is one thing to get an application installed – it is quite another to get it to actually do something useful. Sometimes half the battle is to just get out of the way and let the network managers implement the processes necessary to do their job, instead of having the management app stick to you.