Diary of a Network Geek

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

8/31/2005

I weep…

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,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 Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:51 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

for future generations.
Did I mention in yesterday’s post that I’ve been drinking again? It’s been months since I had any alcohol at all and this past weekend, I bought beer and wine. Actually, the cheap, California red I bought is pretty good. (That would probably horrify an old friend of mine who really knew wine. :) I’m sorry, Larry, I probably have forgotten everything you taught me! ) It’s called Red Truck and I bought it because I liked the label. Yeah, really, that was how I picked it. I’m still working on that bottle. Poor, old Uncle Jim is a light-weight these days. Youth is wasted on the young.
I bought Kingfisher beer, because I hope to experiment with some curry this month. Er, next month. I have fond memories of the “salad days” when I learned to enjoy hot, spicy Indian food which could only be doused by liberal application of Kingfisher.
I’ve also been smoking again. Haven’t done that in years. Well, at least not cigarettes. And, what’s worse, is that it’s been clove cigarettes. I haven’t smoked clove cigarettes in almost nine years. At least I’ve been limiting myself to one a day. That’s one cigarette a day, gentle readers, not one pack. The last time, I was chain-smoking the darn things. And I mean chain-smoking the most hard-core sense, too. Not the namby-pamby, “finish-one-then-pause-before-lighting-another” kind of chain-smoking. I mean I was lighting one cigarette from the butt of the last. It was not pretty at all. Very bad. And, I was doing it in a small apartment. Oh, that was very ugly. All that smoke in a small, confined space. No, it’s better this time. Just one a day, smoked outside in the fresh air. *cough*cough* Yep, that fresh air sure is tasty. Ah, heck, when I’m done with the pack, I’ll stop.
So, I weep for the sad example I’m setting for future generations of network geeks. Don’t be like your Uncle Jim, kids, be better than that.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"While it may be true that the quickest way to a man's heart is through his stomach, sometimes it can be much more satisfying hacking your way through the rib cage."
   --Cara-Beth Lillback

8/30/2005

Public Displays of Emotion

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,MicroSoft,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:06 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

To emote or not to emote…
Should that even be a question? There are times that I am sorely tempted to, as the old writing aphorism goes, “open up a vein” on this blog and just emote all over the place. God knows, I have plenty to “emote” about. Recently divorced, an ex-step-daughter that seems to think I’m the anit-Christ, mountains of debt, little forward progress in my career recently. There’s lots there. I could go on at length regarding my feelings when packing my ex-step-daughter’s clothes which were left behind. (None of these look like they’d fit her anymore, but they were still hers.) But, I hesitate. Why? Because I know who’s reading this. At least, I suspect who’s reading this. More importantly, I don’t know for sure, but am fairly certain that my ex-wife and her boyfriend (fiance?) read my blog searching for… Well, for something. Honestly, I’m not quite sure what, but they seem determined to find it, whatever “it” is.
So, knowing my audience, or potential audience, or possible audience, how much do I give them? Do I show them a little bit of what I’m feeling in order to show the rest of my readers what my life is like? Do I lie, to throw the pests off the track? No, I can’t lie as a simple distraction. It would feel too ingenuine to do that here. Is it better to drift at a shallow, surface level, never touching the deeper stuff, in the name of “safety”? Not sure I know the answer to that one, either. Though, that may be why my posts have been a strange mix of the personal, obscure and technical lately. Maybe.
Of course, for a long time now I’ve been careful what I say about things and people at work. After all, I would hate to get fired for blogging. Still, there are many things I can, and do, talk about that are quite geekily professional on this blog. It is not, by any stretch of my imagination, a professional blog. It’s very personal, but I do spend a lot of time at work, so work factors into my personal blog. And, I am a geek by nature. For pity’s sake, my older brother has a PhD. in Physical Chemistry and interviewed with Microsoft, in the early days. Know why he turned them down? My brother the chemist, who rearranged molecular bonding sites for his doctoral thesis and wrote shareware for the TI home computer, felt that the guys at Microsoft were just “too geeky”! It’s genetic. Geeks and we both still don’t care for Microsoft. And, yes, I had a great-great-uncle who was in the circus. As a trick shot artist! Still… Strange runs in my family. So, geeky stuff gets into the blog.
Well, have I rambled enough to distract you from the initial premise? Should I talk about my feelings in this blog when someone might either use that against me or take great satisfaction in my pain? Don’t know. If I ever figure it out, I’ll let you know.
Oh, and your Advice for today? “When agitated, pause.” Best advice I never asked for.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"There are three ways to get something done: do it yourself, employ someone, or forbid your children to do it."
   --Monta Crane

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8/26/2005

Psychotic Managers?

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Fun,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:18 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

No, this is not about to become a looney manifesto.
According to this article on Fastcompany.com, a disturbingly high number of top executives qualify as being sociopathic or psychopathic. According to the article, “Psychopaths have a profound lack of empathy. They use other people callously and remorselessly for their own ends.” And, I’m sure if you’ve spent any time in corporate America, you’ve known at least one manager/supervisor/CEO that met at least those two criteria. There are actually more that *should* clear most of the normal, albeit, agressive and rather heartless managers I’ve known. Most. If you’d like to know if your boss is a sociopath, take their “Is your boss a psychopath” quiz! Yea! Pop psychology!
And, no, I will not comment on anyone I work with in this regard, past or present. What’s more, if you’ll take a little advice from your Uncle Jim, I would keep the results of your quiz to yourself. From what I understand, sociopaths don’t like it much when they’re found out.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"If it falls to your lot to be a dishwasher, wash like Michaelangelo painted pictures, like Shakespeare wrote poetry, like Beethoven composed music... wash so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, 'There lived a great dishwasher who did his job well.'"
   --Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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8/25/2005

Making PDFs with PERL

Filed under: Career Archive,Fun Work,Geek Work,PERL — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:59 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

This is cooler than it sounds.
No, really. Please, let it be cooler than it sounds so I feel better about the way I spent my day. Please?
Honest, using the PDF::API2 CPAN module is much more challenging than it sounds. I spent most of the afternoon trying to figure out how to force a second page into my PERL-generated PDF. Why? Because, I want a nice title page for my documentation. Also, I see applications for this frightening technology beyond the scope of my project. See, one of the things we do is prepare, and sell, documentation for our great, big, huge, expensive cranes. That documentation is in, you guessed it, PDF format. A fair portion of this documentation is based on AutoCAD drawings that have been convertd to PDF. So, now, all I have to do it automate most, if not all, of that process and I’ll save a ton of time, which, according to the “time=money” formula will “impact the bottom line”, as they say in boardrooms. Cool. In other words, I found a way to justify my personal project (the server inventory script) by applying the things I’m “testing” there toward the automation of a dirty, low-end, repetetive task that no one likes doing (compiling the documentation PDF). Very cool. And, thanks to all this work on PERL this week, I’ve added a new category: PERL.
Oh, yeah, here is the PERL PDF Example code. Enjoy!

8/24/2005

PERL OS Detection

Filed under: Apple,Fun Work,Geek Work,Linux,MicroSoft,Novell,PERL — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:10 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

This is sort of the long way around, but…
Well, I have a dream. I dream of a single, giant PERL script that does a complete server inventory, no matter what version of operating system it’s running. Why? Look at my resume. Notice how many times I’ve changed jobs? Every time I hit a new gig, I look at their server documentation, if they have any, and ask how old it is. 80% of the time, no one knows how old it is. The rest of the time, it’s so old and out of date as to be totally irrelevant. Of course, no matter the state of their documentation, it always falls to me to create it or update it. Hence my quest for a single, glorious PERL script that checks everything that matters on an individual server and drops it into a report, or at least a text file that I can make into a report.
The biggest stumbling block to my vision of this splendiferous chunk of code has almost always been the first one: figuring out which operating system the target is running. Well, not any more. No, my faithful readers, including my ex-wife and her new meal-ticket, now I give you Step One in Uncle Jim’s Master Plan for Network Domination.
PERL OS Version checker

Well, at least yesterday wasn’t a total waste.

8/23/2005

Flirty Girl

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Dog and Pony Shows,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:57 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

I was at the store with my bitch last night.
Everyone was flirting with her, of course. And spoiling her. Well, I spoil her, too. Last night was no exception. I’m talking about my Hildagard, naturally. I’d never refer to anyone else as a bitch, or quite as fondly.
I like to take her out riding in the car, especiall when we go to PetSmart. There’s weren’t any other dogs there last night, but there were plenty of people who cooed at my little red-head. She was more interested in the treats offered than the attention. And, I think she just about came unglued when she saw me put three rawhide bones into our cart. She got one last night, because it’s been too hot to take our walks and she needs something to keep her busy. The other small one I’m saving for when we have company in a month or so. I expect there will be movers that will get her all wound up, so I’ll want to give her something to keep her extra busy then, too. After that, I hope to have a divorce party and I’d like Hilda to be on her best behavior, so I figured I’d give her the largest rawhide bone then. A house full of people is sure to make her hyper, but I hope a three-foot hunk of rawhide will help calm her down.
I also got her doggie brownie mix. Yeah, that’s right. Carob brownies that you bake at home for your dog. Just add eggs and oil. I figure I’ll be too busy to really make everything from scratch, even for my favorite people, the dogs. But, I know several people who have dogs and I want to let them bring their dogs to this party, too. I have a big enough back yard to let them all run and play. (And, if I have time before hand, I’ll make them something out of Cooking the Three Dog Bakery Way or from Short Tails And Treats From Three Dog Bakery or maybe even from the Three Dog Bakery Cookbook. If pick something I can freeze, I can make it early, then throw it in the freezer and keep it until the party. Of course, I might cheat there, too, and just get the Three Dog Bakery Worlds Biggest Box \’O Beagels – Miniature Variety for all my canine compatriots.)
God, I spoil my dog. But she’s worth it. Hey, here’s a little advice from your Uncle Jim, “Spoil your pets a little. They love you more for just being you than any human being ever will.”


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Those who dance are considered insane by those who can't hear the music."
   --George Carlin

8/22/2005

Retraining

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Dog and Pony Shows,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:48 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

My dog seems to have done an interesting thing.
She’s retrained herself. My backyard is more or less subdivided into three sections. The “front” section, which is between the house and the koi ponds is mostly what folks see from the house. But, behind the ponds is a whole lot more yard that is divided by a slowly decaying shed. There used to be a fence, too, but that’s all come down now. When we first got Hilda, my ex-wife and I tried to train her only to “do her business” in the far back part of the yard, with the idea that we could enjoy the area by the koi ponds more if it were dog-poop free. Unfortunately, as anyone who has potty trained a puppy knows, my little bundle of brown joy had other ideas. So, for the better part of three years, she’s gone right where I’d prefer she not go. Sometime in the past two weeks, that changed.
Every Sunday, I clean up the yard in preparation for doing yardwork of somekind. Even when it’s too hot to do yardwork, I still police the yard. It’s just part of owning a dog. Yesterday, though, it seemed to me that there wasn’t hardly anything to clean up. And, just when I was thinking about taking the poor, constipated thing to the vet, it occurrs to me that there’s a whole lot more yard for me to check. Sure enough, right where we tried to train her almost three years ago, she’s started “doing her business”.
So, my miracle puppy has read my mind and retrained herself. Wonders never cease!

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8/19/2005

Free Blackberry with Pizza?!?

Filed under: Fun,Fun Work,Geek Work,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:48 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

Yes, that’s right.
Papa John’s Pizza is offering a free Blackberry with your on-line pizza order. According to the ad, if you “Just add any Papa John’s side item and two 20-oz. beverages to your online order” they’ll give you a free (after rebate) Blackberry. Some restrictions apply, like signing a two year contract, but, honestly, the contract doesn’t look too bad for what you get:

Consumers will commit to a new 2 year voice and data service agreement for $74.98 per month which will consist of an email data plan at $34.99 per month plus a voice plan for $39.99 which includes 450 anytime minutes, plus 5000 night and weekend minutes and mobile to mobile unlimited calling. Customer will pay $150.00 and will receive a $150.00 Mail-In Rebate with the device. Offer may vary by market and is contingent upon service provider credit. See order page for complete details. Not valid for upgrades. Offer good only in the USA and may not be available in all markets. Early Termination fee applies. Activation fee and applicable taxes extra.

Anyway, it struck me as interesting enough to pop another Friday message at you. Enjoy!

DIY Wireless ISP

Filed under: Fun,Fun Work,Geek Work,Linux,The Network Geek at Home,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:43 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

Hmm, this could be fun…
Lately, IBM has been really supportive of Linux. In fact, they have a whole section on their site dedicated to cool things you can accomplish with Linux. The latest of these is an article about how to use Linux to set up a wireless ISP. They suggest setting this up for a neighborhood or office, but I’m sure there are applications far beyond that. They take you through the basics, but, after skimming the article, I sure wouldn’t reccomend this for the Linux neophyte. The article does cover, in brief, all the aspects of this project, including hardware choices, but it focuses on a series of bash scripts written by the author to help you manage your WISP. That’s all well and good, but, of course, limited in scope.
So, why not add all that functionality to a backpack and make yourself a walking “hotspot”. Yeah, that’s not a joke. A guy actually took a backpack with solar panels built into it, added some wireless hardware, and made himself into a roving hotspot.

Now, that’s entertainment! And perfect for a fun, freaky Friday link.

8/18/2005

All’s Quiet

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal,Personal Archive,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 8:00 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

on the Netgeek front…
Mainly because I’ve been packing my ex-wife’s stuff up. It’s amazing to me how much stuff one four-bedroom house can hold! I’ve gotten about one to one-and-a-half rooms done, but I have the upstairs bathroom and the Christmas stuff to sort through, not to mention my step-daughter’s room (ex-step-daughter? Hmm…) and all the kitchen stuff. Oh, and all those damned teapots. 30+ teapots that have to be packed with care so they can survive the trip to where she lives now. Fun. Anyway, if you notice a lack of posts for the next month or so, that’s why. I’m packing up the moldy remains of that dead part of my life. On the upside, though, when I get it all done, I can start on the new chapter of my life without the deadweight!
Well, off to work again, packing…

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