Single mod_perl Instance Serving Multiple Domains

I manage several low-traffic websites sites.  These sites use the classic 2-server Apache/mod_perl architecture.  The front-end server is a light Apache instance hosting a WordPress blog.  The heavy, back-end server is mod_perl-enabled Apache serving various web applications I’ve created.

To the best of my understanding, mod_perl/Apache can only set-up and cache a single database connection.  Is that right? Only one database connection per mod_perl instance?

But my applications need to access several databases.  All the databases are hosted on a single instance of MySQL.  I’ve set it up to use that single cached database connection, and also distinguish requests from the different front-end domains.  Lastly, I’m experiencing a problem using $r->push_handlers.  Let me tell you about it and ask for your feedback. First, the set up. Continue reading “Single mod_perl Instance Serving Multiple Domains”

Excel BTS Project Tracker – Forecasting

When I first began writing this article, I set out to create a Project Dashboard; a self-updating, all singing, all dancing dashboard that would automatically reveal everything anyone might possibly want to know about this project.  Having such a Dashboard would have fabulous consequences.  Like shortening all the project status meetings because the answer to every question is right there in front of you.  Like having an up-to-date Dashboard about 3 seconds after applying the most recent updates.  Like having a ready-made slide for the monthly or quarterly management presentation.

Having an automatically and instantly updating Project Dashboard is like a superpower.  It’s like X-ray vision.  It’s like bringing a gun to a knife fight.  You’ll crush all the status meetings.   Even if the project is running late, having all the answers is the best way to approach any situation.   People will begin to look at you as an expert. They will start to ask you unrelated questions.  I suggest you have your superhero cape dry-cleaned in advance.

But that will be on a later day.  One of the first things I wanted to add to the Dashboard was a project completion forecast.   But I haven’t made one, yet.  So that’s what I’ll do in this article, give the Project Tracker a forecast.  I’ll show you a couple new Excel functions to implement forecasting, and once again I’ll achieve complete automation in the BTS Project Tracker. Continue reading “Excel BTS Project Tracker – Forecasting”

October 2017 Writing Roundup

Each month I summarize my work during the previous month.  I hope that by pausing to reflect on my activities and reviewing my progress that I can learn how to do better in the future. Monthly Traffic ReportOctober traffic increased quite a bit, more than double September!   Makes me happy because it means more of you are reading and sharing what I’m writing.  I hope it also means you are getting more value and useful information from me.  Comment if you agree or if you’d like me to write about something specific.

Getting more of your comments and feedback is the thing I need to work on the most.  Engagement.  Right now, mostly I’m broadcasting.  I write and you read.  This is probably a result of my writing style.  I suspect I’ve too many years of reading and writing dry, technical documentation, having no plot, no hero, no winner and too little interest in feedback from the reader.   I’m trying to change my approach.  Please feel free to offer your suggestions. Continue reading “October 2017 Writing Roundup”

Microsoft Excel for Telecom Managers

An interesting question was posted over on Stack Overflow recently.  The question presented a challenge which I’ll paraphrase thus: Based upon the accompanying billing system data, how would you use Excel to list the Base Station generating the highest revenue by Area, Region, and Product?Excel for Telecom Managers

First, let’s pause for a moment of thanks that this challenge gives us a chance to deal with money, with revenue.  Engineers are far too infrequently exposed to this side of the business.  Sure, we get to dabble in financial assets for budgeting and invoice processing.  But otherwise, the Finance and Accounting departments conspire to keep a wide gap between us and money. I wonder why that is? Continue reading “Microsoft Excel for Telecom Managers”

2G Network Decommissioning, Ready?

The idea of 2G Network decommissioning is hot right now.  Many operators still operate 2G networks.  They’re wondering when is the right time to turn it off.  I want to use this article to share my experience.  I did a 2G Network Decommissioning analysis for an operator awhile back.  It is a complex topic, with a many moving parts.  This might easily be made into a continuing series of articles. 

Zahid Ghadialy from the 3G4G Blog got me thinking about this with his article 2G / 3G Switch Off: A Tale of Two Worlds.  His write-up focused on differences caused by market demographics.  In this article, I’ve confronted that issue indirectly, through the impact on Churn a forced migration can have.  The magnitude of the impact will be different in every market. Continue reading “2G Network Decommissioning, Ready?”

Excel BTS Project Tracker – Dynamic Named Ranges

We’ve never met before. But I already know a lot about you. You probably work in technology, maybe in a Mobile Network RAN. You already use Microsoft Excel, and you’d like to get better at it. You are not a manager and don’t have a team of people to supervise or manage. Lastly, you want to get more out of your career.

How do I know all these things about you? I didn’t sleep at 221B Baker Street last night, but I do read and watch a lot of Sherlock Holmes stories. Seriously, I’ve shared this article to Telecoms and Excel groups, where Telecoms professionals and people trying to improve their Excel skills hang out. So you’re probably one of them.

And what about not being a Manager, was I right about that? That was easy, it’s a trick question: when was the last time you met any manager who thought there was anything they didn’t already know? Hah!

About getting more from your career, what else should I expect from someone scouring technology groups and blogs trying to learn new skills?

This article will cover one of Excel’s most useful and most difficult topics: Dynamic Named Ranges. I’ve talked about Named Ranges before, how they make your formulas easier to read and to update. Dynamic Named Ranges give you a way to automatically re-size ranges as your dataset changes. Two places where this is often done is with Charts and with Print Areas. In this article, I’ll show you have a Dynamic Named Range can automate the data displayed in your charts. The result is one less step whenever you update the Project Tracker. Continue reading “Excel BTS Project Tracker – Dynamic Named Ranges”

September 2017 Writing Roundup

Each month I summarize my work during the previous month.  I hope that by pausing to reflect on my activities and reviewing my progress that I can learn how to do better in the future.

This month was was very exciting.  More people read my stories than ever before.  The Spectrum Futures 2017 conference in Bangkok was outstanding.  I also began working a new contract.  And finally, my book is almost finished.  Much to love about September. 

Continue reading “September 2017 Writing Roundup”

Excel BTS Project Tracker – New Date Format

So far in this series I’ve written 4 articles building our Project Tracker.  I’ve set up the Updates table and created progressively more complex Pivot Tables by using Lookups, Synthetic Data and Bucketization.

But let me stop for just a moment to talk about where I’m going with this.  I’ve written before about Excel Dashboards.  In Stop Monthly Reporting Madness I described a 3-step process for Excel automation: Update, Refresh, Share. This 3-step process works for Trackers and Dashboards and just about any Excel Workbook for managing a fixed dataset that accepts changes over time.  Exactly how you realize this 3-step Mantra really depends on the nature of the underlying data and your own creativity.

Generally, when I create a new Excel project, my objective is to do as much of the work as possible up front, when I’m creating the workbook.  Once completed, the workbook shouldn’t need to be changed, only data added.  The workbook just reliably does what it was setup to do.  Day-in, day-out, as I use the workbook, it is as simple and as automated as possible.  That 3-step process is always my goal: Update, Refresh, Share. Continue reading “Excel BTS Project Tracker – New Date Format”

Notes From Spectrum Futures 2017

This week I attended Spectrum Futures 2017, sponsored by Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC) at the Pullman Bangkok Grande Sukhumvit on Asoke Montri Road in Bangkok. The conference was rather lightly attended, which allowed for a very collegial, clubby atmosphere to prevail.  Gary Kim and the PTC Events Team did a super job organizing and presenting the conference.

I can appreciate the paradox conference organizers face, wanting enough participants to make the conference profitable, while not destroying the right mood for collaboration and discussion.  I don’t know the finances of the event, but PTC definitely got the atmosphere right.  There were several outstanding presentations during the conference.  For me, the best part of the conference was the level of audience participation and interaction.  During many of the presentations, audience questions often led to continued discussion and further questions.  It was a very positive feedback loop. Continue reading “Notes From Spectrum Futures 2017”

Excel BTS Project Tracker (Date Buckets)

What kind of Engineer are you, how would you describe yourself?  Are you the kind who uses a straight edge when you write so the lines will be beautifully aligned, or do you scribble something barely legible to get done and to move on to the next thing?  Do you calculate cell boundaries using 8-digit precision, or do you close one eye and squint through the other to make your best guess based on the data and your experience?

I know that it takes all kinds to make the world.  There will always be a need for the beautifully aligned, 8-digit precision types.  For myself and the work I do, I always preferred the scribblers and the guessers.  I’ll take a Master of the Pareto Principle ( over the i-dotters and t-crossers any day.

No slight intended to those people.  They do fine work, and there are times when that is essential.  Like rocket launches, aircraft manufacturing, pharmaceuticals.  But in my experience, Telecoms never respected that quality of work and the time required to do it.  Most of the time, whatever work we did today, ended up being redone, with a slightly different set of requirement, within a few months time.

The point I want to make is that there is a time and place for everything.  As Engineers and Technologists, we must maintain our situational awareness to know what kind of effort is required.  Know when the absolute best is required, and when going a little faster is more highly valued.  Put cavalierly, “Don’t make the Best the Enemy of Good Enough“.  There is a time and a place. Remember that. Continue reading “Excel BTS Project Tracker (Date Buckets)”