John Bowdre

  • @johndotbowdre
  • Wrangler of imaginary computers
  • He/him
  • Huntsville, AL
By day, I manage a large virtualized server environment, with a focus on learning to leverage cloud a...  
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Enterprise Architect

  • Teledyne Technologies
  • Dec 2018 - Present

Systems Administrator

  • Alutiiq
  • Oct 2013 - Dec 2018

IT Manager

  • The Atlantic Group
  • Jul 2011 - Oct 2013

Field Engineer

  • AAR Integrated Technologies
  • Jul 2008 - Jul 2011

Satellite Wideband and Telemetry Systems Journeyman

  • Alabama Air National Guard
  • Oct 2003 - Oct 2009
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John's Adventures

🪄 VMware vRA

12 Highlights

🔧'74 VW Ghia

12 Highlights

🏎 Autocross

5 Highlights


Nov 25, 2021
Nov 25, 2021
Finished reading a book
I just finished reading Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir. 

It's a first-contact story and a story of fighting for survival not of individual characters but of entire worlds. 

Weir has a great knack for weaving event-driven crisis and humor in with hard sci-fi to make a very gripping story that I really struggled to put down. It's been great to watch his skill as a writer develop with his previous novels and I think this may be his best work yet. I know it sucks for the characters, but I loved being able to trace a current crisis back to decisions made and actions taken to address a previous crisis. 
Nov 23, 2021
Nov 23, 2021
Participated in User Research
I had a great time chatting with Matt about what brought me to Polywork, how I use the platform as a curated timeline of stuff I've done, and what I'd like to see added in the future. I'll never pass up the opportunity to dialog about a product I love using!

Plus now I can post my first collaborative highlight! 🎉
Nov 20, 2021
Nov 20, 2021
Competed in an autocross event

I won my autocross class!

You might think that my car looks a bit different than usual, and you'd be right - this isn't my car. For this event, I had the unexpected pleasure of co-driving a friend's Scion FR-S which had been prepared for the Solo Spec Coupe (SSC) class. In order for a car to be eligible for this class, it has to be equipped with strictly-prescribed set of modifications, including shocks, springs, and anti-roll bars. As a result you get to compete directly with other FR-Ses and BRZees sporting the same equipment, largely removing vehicle differences from the equation and just focusing on driver skill.

My BRZ and I have been getting whooped pretty good this year by the much-faster Civic Type-R's and Veloster N's in the D Street (DS) class so I had been casually toying with the idea of tossing the SSC hardware onto my car and running in that class next year. So this opportunity to drive an SSC car was very timely!

I had an absolute blast in this car. The suspension was much stiffer than in my car so of course it cornered more aggressively, but I was surprised that it also felt like it had more power - probably because the stiffer setup prevented it from rocking backwards when I punched the throttle. There's no hesitation anymore; I give an input and it immediately (and eagerly!) complies.

And I must have been doing something right since I was able to win the class against two other drivers. It felt very good to finally bring home a trophy this year!

Of course, now I will have to get the SSC kit for my car!
Nov 17, 2021
Nov 17, 2021
Deployed a server to Google Cloud
Used Docker-Compose

Deployed Snikket XMPP messaging server to Google Cloud (Free Tier)

I came across the Snikket project the other day, which strives to make decentralized-but-federated end-to-end-encrypted messaging built on the open XMPP protocol more accessible to non-techies. They provide a hosted option but also make it extremely easy to self host; I'm a sucker for self-hosting things so I thought I'd give it a try.

The Snikket Quick Start Guide made it incredibly simple to get up and running. It honestly took me longer to finalize the registration of a new domain ( - a shorter alt for than it did to create a new Ubuntu e2-micro instance on Google Cloud's free tier, configure DNS records and firewall rules, deploy the Snikket server components in a docker container, and create a user account through the Snikket Android app.

And now I've got a private chat server I can use for communicating with my closest friends - like any of my Polywork connections who might want to check it out:

I'm pretty impressed with the project so far, and I'm excited about Snikket's future possibilities. It's much less nerd-centric than my Matrix + Element setup is. The client and server both work very well, and the process of onboarding as a new user couldn't be simpler.

To put that to the test, I've also deployed another instance that I'm going to try to use as a replacement for my family's many group text threads! Wish me luck!
Nov 15, 2021
Nov 15, 2021
Wrote Python
I wrote a quick python script to publish a user's SSH public key to their user object in Active Directory.

We're doing some work to improve how we manage the deployment of new Linux machines, and part of that effort is to leverage our existing Active Directory for user authentication. We also intend to enforce public key authentication.

With that in mind, I've been doing some experimentation with the steps described in this blog post to enable Active Directory to store a user's public key(s) so that we don't have to worry about staging those on all the various machines the user might need access to. And then I hacked together a little python script to streamline pushing the key(s) into AD. It will even generate a new key pair if you don't provide one!

It's not pretty - but it works!

I could put some more polish into this to make it a really nice tool (and I may still do that), but my immediate goal was to get a working proof-of-concept script so that I could move on to Stage 2: shoving this python code into a couple of vRealize Orchestrator workflows that can be published to vRealize Automation as a Custom Resource. That will give end users a friendly web interface for easily managing the keys associated with their account, and I could also link it to the current machine deployment process to further automate all the things.

That is going to require some more work on my part but I wanted to go ahead and share this small victory.

Nov 09, 2021
Nov 09, 2021
Finished reading a book
Learned about DevOps
I just finished reading The Phoenix Project by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, and George Spafford. It provides a great introduction to the DevOps mindset, cleverly disguised as a novel about how a fictional company being strangled by legacy IT is able to turn things around by adapting optimization strategies used by manufacturing plants.

DevOps is so often just a buzzword used to convince companies to invest in a particular tool or technology, while really it has to be a fundamental shift in how we think about and approach technical problems. I really appreciated the way this book emphasizes the mindset and approach over any particular set of tools.
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