Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

3/28/2005

Hilda is in the House!

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Dog and Pony Shows,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 9:21 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

My darling Hilda has returned to me.
It’s a long, complicated story, but I got my dog from the airport this evening. She was a little dehydrated and scared, but otherwise okay. I could barely restrain her from jumping out of the crate long enough to get a leash on her, but I did. She sat in the passenger’s seat and panted the whole way home, even though I had cool air blowing on her. As soon as we got home, I changed and got her bathed, because the trip had taken its toll on her. By the time I was drying her off, though, she was already getting back to being her playful self. As I type this, she’s laying at my feet, the absolute picture of a faithful companion.
As you might have guessed, I love my dog very much and I’ve missed her beyond belief these past several months. I’m beside myself with relief and joy to have her again.
Many thanks to everyone who was there encouraging me, placating me, and praying for me.
Now, you’ll have to excuse me while I go pet my dog.

3/26/2005

WP Upgrade, yo!

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:21 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Yo, we upgraded!
Yeah, that’s right, we finally upgraded to the latest, greatest version of WordPress. You won’t see much of a difference on the viewing end of things, but, trust me, the backend has got it going on. The interface is much nicer, even though I liked it before. And there are some handy new features, like themes and better comment spam management. Trust me, it’s very cool. If you run WordPress and you haven’t upgraded, do it.

3/25/2005

Magstripe Reading Fun

Filed under: Fun,Fun Work,Geek Work,News and Current Events,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:13 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

Ever wonder what’s on that magnetic stripe on your credit card?
Well, there are ways of finding out. Or, as they say in Wilwauke, “we have ways of making you talk”! (That’s an old joke from Boy Scout camp in Pierson, Wisconson.) Interestingly enough, a gentleman with the prestigious name “Billy Hoffman” has developed a little project called StripeSnoop that is all about getting at the information. The link first came to my attention via an article at Slashdot, so if his site is down, give it a couple of days for the “new” to wear off and the Slashdotters to get over it, then go back. Mr. Hoffman’s site has information on everything you’ll need from the software to building the hardware reader. Pretty cool!
Now, some of you may be asking, “Uh, isn’t this illegal or something?” Well, as far as I know, no, it’s not. Reproducing what you read off these magstripes would definately be illegal, but just read ing it shouldn’t be a problem. Of course, the credit card companies might not want you to know what they encode on their cards, but I doubt that it’s illegal. And, what is encoded on those cards is pretty interesting. For instance, did you know that your ATM card has your PIN encoded on it? That’s why you have to go get a new card and reassign it a PIN when you lose your old one. Now, that may have changed recently, but I doubt it since banks generally fear change. And, I have to admit, I’ve always wanted to know just what that magstripe on the back of my driver’s license has on it.
In any case, it’s an interesting project and I thought I’d post it. Oh, by the way, this project is not connected with either my father, William F. Hoffman, Jr., my brother, William F. Hoffman, III, or my eldest nephew, William Thomas Hoffman. Just thought I’d clear that up. Though, you can see why the name caught my attention!

3/24/2005

Major Kernel Work!

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Geek Work,Linux,News and Current Events,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 7:25 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

After a day and a half, I managed to get my kernel updated.
I’ve been working on a building a Linux machine that we can use to generate our own customized ZENWorks Imaging Boot CD for the past couple of days. Today, just before lunch, I finally got the kernel updated from 2.4.x to 2.6. It was much more challenging that it sounds! I must have run through at least five different documents from various places on the Internet before I finally found one that worked. Oddly enough, it was titled “How to compile 2.6 kernel for RedHat 9 and 8.0 and get Fedora updates“, by Mike Chirico. It did work, however, on the RedHat AS 3.x server that I’m running.
So, now all I have to do if figure out how to create the Novell Linux Imaging Build Script environment. Yeah, right, “all I have to do”.
Well, as a Lodge Brother used to say, I’m getting along “steady, by jerks”!

3/22/2005

Generic Certification

Filed under: Certification,Deep Thoughts,Geek Work,Linux,News and Current Events,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:09 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Not a bad idea.
Here’s something from AustralianIT that makes a lot of sense to me: vendor neutral certification. Okay, yes, I have a Novell certification that I’ve maintained since 1994, but I think the more open or wider certifications are better for the IT industry. Why? Because, in theory, they get us out of the pidgeon-hole thinking that our “pet” OS is the best. Ever heard the phrase, “If the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail”? Well, that applies to certifications, too. I have to admit that most of my solutions to problems are Novell-centric. I tend to focus on using one of their suite of products because that’s what I know. Lately, I’ve added a reversable screwdriver to my IT toolbox with Linux. And, yes, I have a Linux certification, too. But, that certification is fairly open in regards to what particular version of Linux is being used. Most of what was covered was applicable to virtually any version of Linux, and most versions of Unix.
So, yes, I think this is a good idea. I hope it catches on in Australia well enough that folks here in the States take it seriously. I think it’s the shot in the arm that IT certifications need.

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3/21/2005

Charity Case

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Dog and Pony Shows,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:06 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I’ve been volunteering at H.O.P.E. again.
You know, everytime I go and do that I see so many dogs that need good homes. I don’t think I’ll ever buy a pure-bred dog again. Not that I have anything against that, but there are just so many homeless mutts here in Houston that need a happy home, I couldn’t bring myself to leave one of them behind. Take Lady, for instance. She’s the sweetest thing, once she gets to know you. Two weeks ago when I was there, she was trying to skruntch down into the back corner of her crate, belly up, so that I could pet her. Don’t be put off by the fact that she’s part Pitt Bull, because she’s really a sweet dog. Or, if you want a dog that’s good with cats, try Finder. He’s so happy and full of life that he’ll lift your spirits no matter how you feel.
And don’t think that I’ve forgotten about all the cats, either. There’s never a shortage of cats to be adopted! I haven’t met this cat, but I’ve always been interested in polydactyl cats, because Hemmingway had them. So, Joey, who’s got a couple extra toes, sounded like a cat I’d like to meet. I have met Blueberry and she’s a total lover. And there are so many more. H.O.P.E. also works with North Texas Siamese Rescue, who really covers all of Texas. They have lots of beautiful cats of all ages and descriptions, not just Siamese. In fact, there’s one gorgeous Russian Blue that gets so scared when she’s at the adoption center that I’m afraid she’ll never get adopted.
I wish I could take all the animals home, but no one person can do all that. So, if you’re in the market for a family pet, come on out and take a look at what we’ve got. If you’re not in the Houston area, I’m sure there are local shelters that would love to have you adopt one of their rescues instead.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link of the chain of destiny can be handled at a time."
   --Winston Churchill

3/18/2005

A Change of Heart?

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 12:54 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Well, isn’t that interesting.
Our un-named someone at IP 68.106.38.39 apparently had a change of heart. Some unkown person at that IP address changed one of my web account passwords back to what it had been. I wonder why? Well, whatever the reason, it was uncommonly civil of them. Thank you, it saves me a small bit of hassle.
Curiouser and curiouser.

Make Your Own Apple I

Filed under: Art,Fun,Fun Work,Geek Work,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:29 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Wow, classic, retro computing!
Hey, this brings back memories…. I was in high school when the Apple first hit significant production. In fact, we had an Apple I in our fledgling computer lab when I was a Freshman, though it was quickly replaced with an Apple IIe. (Yeah, I’m poor-folk, but I grew up in a pretty affluent neighborhood. Thanks, Mom and Dad!) That was back in the days when there weren’t such things as “floppy drives” or “CD-ROM drives”. Nope, you loaded your programs from tape. Audio tape! Yep, it was the Dark Ages, allright. And I was there to see it. God I feel old all of a sudden….
Anyway, now you can relive those glory days of yesteryear with your very own, home-built AppleI. Yessirree, according to this article on Wired News, there is now a book out that teaches you how to build your very own Apple I. It’d be a challenge for most of us, now that we’ve gotten used to all the fancy bells and whistles, but it could be fun. A neat learning project, or even a science fair project for someone. And, you never know, it might just inspire someone to invent the Next Big Thing in computing!

Besides, it’s Friday and if you’re reading this blog you’re geeky enough to think building your Apple I is cool. Just like me. So, go ahead, indulge your guilty geek pleasure and click the link.

3/17/2005

Evil Twin Solution(?)

Filed under: Geek Work,News and Current Events,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 8:40 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

Here’s the answer to the “Evil Twin” problem.
Remember some weeks back I mentioned the whole deal with so called evil twin routers? Well, there’s a solution. At least, according to this article on the ITToolbox Knowlegebase, there is a fix for it. Or, rather, there is a theoretical fix for it. Two computer scientists have come up with something they call the ‘delayed password disclosure protocol’ which they claim will remove the environment that allowed the evil twin router exploit to even exist. They hope to have beta code before the end of Summer this year, but it may be quite some time before that beta code goes gold and hits the actual market. So, keep an eye out for it.
Or, if you’re a bit of a computer genius, come up with your own competeing solution first! It could mean a lot of money to whoever beats these two to the punch. You know, for a change, I’m glad that I don’t deal with routers and these kinds of headaches all day long. I just have projects with unclearly defined goals, at least in my mind. Easy peasy compared to routing security issues.

Status Update 2

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Sheep which is in the early afternoon or 2:01 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

A new player heard from!
Well, interestingly enough, my Bloglines password was comprimised, too. But, I got that fixed and even managed to recover some of the deleted feeds and posts from those blogs that have also been deleted. Well, and I have hard-copy of all the good ones.

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