John Bowdre

By day, I manage a large virtualized server environment, with a focus on leveraging cloud and automat...  
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Positions

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

What John's working on

What John's working on

2021

Oct 24, 2021
Oct 24, 2021
Worked on a project car
Worked on an air-cooled VW
It's been six weeks since I last shared an update on my Karmann Ghia project, but that doesn't mean I haven't been working on it; in fact, the car's had one end or the other on jackstands for most of that time.

I drove the car to work one day following my last update, and when I got home I realized that the front-left wheel was radiating a lot of heat, while the front-right was only slightly above the ambient temperature. I removed the wheel and discovered that the caliper was seized and dragging the outside pad, which was about half as thick as the inside pad. I found a caliper rebuild kit for about $40, but I'd still need new pads (even assuming that I could successfully rebuild the bum caliper) - or I could spend $200 for a pair of new calipers with fresh pads included. I also ordered a new pair of brake hoses since the ones that were on the car were a bit worse for wear, and threw in a bunch of other small parts I'd been meaning to order as well.

When the parts arrived, I set to work replacing the hoses and calipers. That was going well until I stripped the fitting securing the hard line to the flexible hose. I realized I would have to instead remove the other end of the hard line where it connects to the brake cylinder, so I ordered  a new hard line as well.

While I waited, I installed some of the other parts to correct some minor deficiencies:
  • Replaced broken window crank handles to make it much easier to roll the windows up and down.
  • Installed (missing) carburetor pre-heat hose to feed the carb warmer air from underneath the engine until the engine bay is warmed up.
  • Replaced cracked carburetor intake hose.
  • Installed (missing) heater hoses to connect the cabin vents to the heater box under the engine.
  • Replaced broken heater cable to control the flaps closing the heater box off from the hoses leading to the cabin vents. Of course, I also found that the car was missing the levers to actually connect the flap controls to the cable so I had to order a pair of those as well.
  • Replaced (broken/missing) engine lid release cable. Also discovered that I needed some sort of guide tubing to feed the cable through so I raided a hardware store for some semirigid plastic tube of the sort used for connecting an ice maker's water supply. I got it connected to the engine lid release mechanism... and then found that the lid doesn't quite line up the way it's supposed to. Ah well, I'll fight with that another day.
Once the new brake line and heater box control levers arrived I was finally able to install those, bleed the brakes, and crank the engine for the first time in over a month (it started up fine!) and go for a test drive. 

It stops much better with the new brakes! Rolling up the windows so I can lock the car once I get to where I'm going is much easier now. Hopefully the reconnected heater components will help keep me comfortable when it's chilly outside, and hooking up the carburetor preheat should help the Ghia deal with the cooler weather as well. I'm so glad to have this car back on the road, and can't wait to drive it again!



Oct 23, 2021
Oct 23, 2021
Learned Kubernetes
Completed a training course
I'm still studying on the A Cloud Guru GCP Architecture learning path, but a portion of the included coursework included a quick diversion into a great Kubernetes Deep Dive course. I've dabbled with Kubernetes in the past but had never really gotten very deep with it.

Well, now I have! This quick course taught me a lot, and I feel much better prepared for fielding the GKE-related questions that I'm sure will be on my Associate Cloud Engineer exam next week.
Oct 23, 2021
Oct 23, 2021
Instructed at a Performance Driving School
Volunteered with a Club
Mentored a Driver
+ 1
I spent my Saturday helping out as an assistant instructor at the Twickenham Auto Club's Performance Driving School

The 3-day school is focused on helping drivers of all skill levels learn better car control, and I had an absolute blast helping a small group of students in a wide variety of vehicles get a feel for their car's limits, how the vehicle responds when you exceed its limits, and how to safely recover when that happens. 
 
Our day started with a braking drill to demonstrate how quickly an ABS-equipped vehicle will stop, get drivers familiar with what ABS braking pulses feel like, and to show that ABS makes it possible to still steer the car even under maximum braking force. 

The next drill was an emergency lane change exercise to demonstrate how to safely swerve to avoid a collision. The trick here is that a car will respond to a sudden steering input - once. After avoiding the obstacle, the driver must quickly and smoothly counter that steering to resume a straight-line course, and then bring the vehicle to a controlled stop (as necessary). 

We followed that with an autocross-style slalom, where students got familiar with coaxing their vehicles to rapidly change direction side-to-side without upsetting the car's balance. Whereas the previous exercises were all about sudden and decisive control inputs, the slalom is all about being smooth.

A wet skid pad was then used to induce sudden oversteer and get drivers (even of front-wheel drive cars) comfortable with counter-steering to control and recover the slide. You've got to act quickly when you lose traction so this is all about making it an instinctive reaction.

And the final exercise brought everything together with alternating increase-radius and decreasing-radius corners, where the students had to smoothly transition between heavy braking, aggressive steering, and straight-line acceleration. 

The students really got to know their cars better through these drills, and it was very rewarding to see their confidence (and control!) grow throughout the day's sessions. There's no doubt in my mind that the course made them all better and safer drivers, and learning how to respond when things don't go according to plan may just save a life one day. I've learned so much from my fellow drivers in the 7 years I've been autocrossing, and it was great to be able to pass that knowledge and experience along to others. 

Getting into a car to coach a student as they navigated a drill, then hopping out and jogging to get into the next car for about six hours on end was exhausting work. But this was the most fun I've had in cars in a long while - and I didn't even do any of the driving! I can't wait to instruct at this school again next year, and I hope to see many of the students at autocross events before then.
Oct 10, 2021
Oct 10, 2021
Competed in an autocross event
This autocross course really threw me for a loop!

We finally had pleasant weather for a lovely day of friendly autocross competition. The course layout featured an unusual section which looped back on itself along with other challenges which made it easy to lose seconds but much harder to gain them. 

Here's the footage from my best run:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtsHgUBpJAM
Oct 07, 2021
Oct 07, 2021
Attended VMworld conference
Learning Kubernetes
This week I (virtually) attended my second VMware VMworld conference, taking part in two-and-a-half days packed with solution keynotes, product demos, technical deep dives, user study sessions, and hands-on labs to learn more about VMware's latest product releases. It was an exhausting schedule for me (even without emotionally-draining awkward small talk with strangers or a picking up case of Conference Crud) but immensely rewarding.

In particular, I enjoyed learning more about VMware's new Tanzu Community Edition offering, and I've already begun experimenting with using it to deploy a lightweight Kubernetes environment in my homelab. I also learned about the latest VMware Event Broker Appliance/Application release; I intend to deploy that to my TCE instance and leverage it for event-driven automation of my vSphere environment.

And, of course, I learned even more about VMware vRealize Automation, including how to connect it with vRealize Operations for taking automated actions in response to observed events and metrics and how to use Code Stream for building development pipelines. There are a lot of concepts here I'd like to explore more in my own vRA environment.

This was a great event overall, and I'm already looking forward to next year's - hopefully in person!
Sep 21, 2021
Sep 21, 2021
Patched a VMware environment
Installed critical security updates
VMware published a pretty large vCenter security advisory today, VMSA-2021-0020. This includes a number of nasty vulnerabilities, including one (CVE-2021-22005) bearing a CVSSv3 base score of 9.8: 

A malicious actor with network access to port 443 on vCenter Server may exploit this issue to execute code on vCenter Server by uploading a specially crafted file.

YIKES.

Anyway, I've started patching my vCenter environments. You probably should do yours too.
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