Challenging “Can’t”

It can’t do that.  It’s not possible.  There’s no way to make it happen.  Don’t bother, there’s no way to do it.

I hear statements like this all the time.  In many cases, I hear the words before work has even started.  Which always leads me to ask questions.  Why won’t it work?  What have you tried?  Who did you work with?  In variably, the answers lead more questions.  Frequently I find that the challenge was handled in a “bubble” without drawing on the resources that could help.  Problem solving is a core competency for most Information Technology professionals; more than half our time is spent trying to figure out how to make new ideas work or fixing something that suddenly stopped working.  IT is all about challenges, opportunities, a chance to learn, a chance to do something amazing.

IT Professionals have to keep on top of the latest in their field, and as a result they should be in a constant learning mode.  I believe that the ability to continue learning is what makes an IT Professional go from good to great.  Those same IT Professionals will freely share what they know and surround themselves with other “learners” seeking advice when necessary.  You will rarely, if ever, hear the word “can’t” from them.  These are the guys that have worked on systems designed to cooperate that sometimes took persuasion and every now and then stopped their cooperation altogether. They support and configure systems that were not designed to work together but were adapted to do just that.  They make it happen when others have said it couldn’t be done.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are IT Professionals that are very good at what they do, but when a problem exceeds their skills, the impossible happens.  Whatever it is, it cannot be done.  Everyone has run into these guys.  They don’t ask questions, are happy with the status quo and rarely break out of the box (if ever).  I call the people I hear this response from “slugs”.  Nothing irritates me more than hearing a can’t statement and then recognizing this as the source.  I’m not going to rant, I surely could – but what good would it do?  The people that read my articles, certainly sympathize with the difficulty slugs cause.

Is there a time to say, it can’t be done?  I don’t think so.  There does come a point when the cost, time and or effort exceeds the value of what you want to do.  So then the answer is “We shouldn’t do this right now.”  It’s not a matter of can’t, it’s a matter of cost.  Which, in business terms is the Return On Investment (ROI) and is a whole separate discussion.    Having said that, I know plenty of projects postponed due to cost, that have later returned.  The “learners” spent time (one could call it obsessing) on the challenge and found a way…

For any IT Professional that is or wants to be great:  The word “can’t” should be a challenge, never a surrender.

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Ubuntu 10.4 LTS (Lucid Lynx) – Dual Booting

On Thursday Canonical released the final spin of Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx).  10.04 is a major release for Ubuntu, as it is the Long Term Support (LTS) version.  This means that Canonical will support the desktop version for  3 years and the server version for 5 years.  Other versions will be released in between that time, but they are not supported for as long as the LTS versions. When it comes to Open Source Operating Systems, my favorite has clearly become Ubuntu.  I like the community, I like the company and they way it works fits with the way I think.

I do consider myself an early adopter, so when the new versions are out, I do upgrade.  By jumping in early, I see aspects of the OS that I can learn from and can sometimes contribute back when the final version is released by helping others overcome similar problems.  Having said that, I did start using Lucid when Beta 1 was released.  Do I always upgrade my main computer right away?  Not every time, I have several older computers that I have tried upgrades and install on, so that I can make sure I am familiar with the process.  In addition to the old computers, I have a fair bit of experience with Virtual technology and do spin up virtual systems to test and play with an OS or application.

I have been known to put some peer pressure on my friends to live on the edge with me.  Yesterday was one such day.  I convinced Rich to upgrade his 9.10 install to Lucid.  He runs a dual boot system and has Windows 7 as his other OS.  Many people dual boot, there are certainly times when Windows is the only option (iTunes) and it is necessary to use it.  There is a problem here that the upgrade to Lucid is not overly intuitive when the Grub2 update is installed, nor does it explain what to do very well.  In fact, I would hazard to say that the instructions provided actually cause the wrong decision to be made.  Selecting the wrong options, will break your ability to dual boot into Windows.  I selected the wrong options when I upgraded my system, resulting in a blinking cursor when I wanted to boot to Windows.  I decided to give up Windows on my main computer, and just run Ubuntu.  I’ve running this way for a while now, and am quite happy without Windows here.

When Rich was upgrading, I advised him as to what happened to me – and believed that I had the correct options identified.  Long story short, the install broke his dual boot as well.  Rich needs his Windows install, so fixing him up is my priority.  Researching the forums, shows that many people have run into the exact same issue, and there seems to be a variety of suggestions on how to fix it.  Unfortunately, it seems as though some of the suggestions conflict with each other.  So the trick now is coming up with a plan and following it.

  • Fix the system so it boots into Windows
  • Repair or replace Grub or Reinstall Ubuntu

For the purposes of this article, we’re going to focus on fixing Grub, however I will be writing another article on how to set up Windows to give an Ubuntu option on its boot menu.

Let’s get started…

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