Diary of a Network Geek

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

9/30/2005

Paper Organizer

Filed under: Fun,Fun Work,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Palm,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:08 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

No, this won’t organize your papers.
But, it is a cheap alternative to having an easily outdated PDA. As much as I love my old PalmIIIc, I have to admit, sometimes, a low-tech approach to this stuff is best. So, if you’re as cheap as I am, the free, disposable personal-organizer, PocketMod, might be just right for you. You can use this little baby to make yourself a little, paper organizer that you won’t even mind losing all that much. It’s simple to use and, if you’re afraid the website will mysteriously disappear, you can download the offline standalone version. That way, you can keep it forever and ever and make as many throw-away organizers as you need. Pretty cool, isn’t it?

Well, cool enough for a Friday Fun link, anyway. And, considering the technological horror last Friday, it seemed appropriate!

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9/29/2005

Six Dumbest Computer Security Ideas

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Geek Work,The Dark Side,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:39 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Actually, to anyone in the business, these should be pretty obvious.
Of course, I about read this article on Slashdot, but the Six Dumbest Computer Security Ideas is still worth checking out. I say “still” because getting computer security advice from Slashdot is like getting advice about home alarm systems in the waiting room at a prison. The “real” crooks are somewhere else, but everyone claims they “know someone” and, therefore, have insight. Still, the article is pretty good.
I’m not sure that I agree with point five “Educating Users”. I still that that’s a good idea, but I sure wouldn’t rely on it, mainly because so many users don’t want to be educated about computer security. And, I have to admit feeling a little conflicted about some of the issues raised in point four “Hacking is cool”. Sure, I don’t think we should glamorize hacking so much, but how else am I going to know that my security works if I don’t do penetration testing on it? It’s like a backup, as far as I’m concerned. Until I’ve restored data (ie. test my backup scheme), I don’t know that it’s working. Same thing for my security scheme. Of course, spending a lot of time perfecting those penetration skills probably isn’t the best idea, either.
Anyway, it’s a good article and worth the read if you do any of this at all in your job. Pay close attention to the “Minor Dumbs” at the end, too.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"There is no substitute for hard work."
   --Thomas Edison

9/28/2005

Disasterous New Category

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Fun,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:19 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Recent events have inspired a new category.
For those few of you who are loyal readers, you may notice that I have added a new category today: Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe. This is primarily a response to Hurrican Rita, of course, but I wanted a more general category than that. It is possible, after all, that I might move to some similarly endangered area, like, say San Francisco, and have to deal with earthquakes instead of hurricanes. Or, nuclear fallout. Or, invading aliens. Whatever. Something very, very bad, in any case. So, I wanted a general category for large scale bad things beyond my control. Not the occasional bump in the road, like a flat tire or crashed PC, but something of a grander scale, like hurricanes, earthquakes, crashed servers, and other such really big, very bad things.
We’ll see how long I hold to that level of destruction for this category, though. I do get so dramatic.

Dog Flu

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Dog and Pony Shows,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:45 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

I wish this was an urban legend.
But, according to Snopes.com, my source for urban legend veracity testing, it is real. Apparently, there is a fairly dangerous flu moving through the domestic dog population. It started as an avian flu, jumped to horses and then to dogs via horse meat being fed to greyhounds. The flu can be transmitted via dog-to-dog contact as well as via shared objects. According to the article, it made the jump to domestic dogs, as opposed to the racing greyhounds, via workers who,unknowingly, brought it home on their hands and clothes. As this is the first of its kind in the dog world, there is no vaccine and little or no resistance in the dog population.
So, watch your dogs and pray.

9/27/2005

Rogue Dolphin Soldiers?

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Dog and Pony Shows,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:44 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

This seems like a problem…
Over two years ago, on my other blog, I noted a little news article about dolphins geared-up and trained for combat. Well, it seems that not only do they exist, but they may have been released into the Gulf of Mexico, by accident, due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina. At least, according to this news article at the Guardian, that’s quite likely. The US government will neither confirm, nor deny, the veracity of this story, but sources close to the military indicate that as many as 36 bottle-nose dolphins that have been trained by the Navy to attack terrorists compromising ocean vessels may be loose in the Gulf. These sources say that divers and surfers may be in actual danger from these swimming mammals who have been armed with some kind of “poison dart gun”. The concern, according to the article, is that these dolphins “have learnt to shoot at divers in wetsuits who have simulated terrorists in exercises” and could attack innocent bystanders who fit the profile.
The good news is that the “poison” darts are designed to put their target to sleep for later interrogation, but a lone swimmer or diver could find themselves in trouble. And, again, the Navy will not confirm or deny this story. It could be nothing, but…
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water!

Back to Work

Filed under: Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:39 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Well, I had a long day yesterday.
I got the server back up and running yesterday and worked out all the “little issues” that everyone had after shutting down for the weekend. Honestly, I don’t think these folks ever turn their PCs off unless there’s an emergency. It wasn’t too bad, though, mainly a couple of printing problems.
I did have one strange thing. Well, one really strange thing. We use DHCP, specifically, the Windows NT 4 DHCP server. Most of the PCs got addresses without any problem, but a couple of them somehow got assigned an IP address in the restricted range and couldn’t connect to the network. A quick “ipconfig /release” and “ipconfig /renew” took care of the problem, but it shouldn’t be happening at all. Strange. If I get time this week, I’ll try to track it down.
I’m still putting things right on my patio. Dragging out the plants and such. And, clearing the junk away, too. Lots of junk. Some of it will stay in the garage, I think. Dead plants in their pots and the like. I’m taking my time, though, since my back still hurts from moving my ex-wife’s stupid frangipani. Not sure why I don’t just kill that thing and use the pot for something else. Seems too wasteful, I guess, to kill a good, viable plant. Anyway, as I bring stuff out, I’m redoing how the patio is laid out. It’ll be nicer, I think, when I’m done.

9/25/2005

Preparing for Next Time: Rita Part 11

Filed under: Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,Deep Thoughts,Dog and Pony Shows,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:24 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

Yeah, so I’ve been thinking…
Again, this is often a problem area for many reasons, but I just can’t seem to get through the day without it, so I keep on doing it. In this case, I’ve been thinking about Hurricane Rita. Or, actually, I’ve been thinking about what I would have liked to have had on hand when Rita hit, that I either didn’t have, or didn’t think of until afterward.
Here’s most of what I ordered from REI.com:
Candle Latern
Candles for Candle Lantern
A NICE battery-powered lantern
Folding Water Carriers
Portable Water Purifier (Because I’m just not going to worry about this again!)
Sun Shower (Because a little disaster shouldn’t mean that I stink.)
Percolator Coffee Pot (Because a nice cup of coffee is a giant leap toward feeling civilized again!)
And, I’m still debating on which first-aid kit to order. It’s important to have a nice one that includes a good emergency first-aid manual, if you’re not well versed in emergency care already. I have First Aid Merit Badge, so I’m reasonably confident that I’ll be able to muddle through.

From RealGoods, I’ve ordered:
FreePlay EyeMax Radio (It runs on dynamo or solar power and has a built-in flashlight.)
Sidewinder Cell Phone Charger (You can laugh about this one, but that cell phone may be the only communication I have and it won’t work without power.)

Still to get:
A good shotgun and shells, for both emergency hunting and looters (Meat is meat!)
Gas cans! Even if you don’t have a generator, it’s nice to have gas.
MREs They have a shelf-life of years and, with a little clean water, you can have an instant hot meal. The might not be really super tasty, but they’re not bad and they are food. (Again, meat is meat!)
Extra dog food! I need to get that BEFORE the streets get crazy.
Oil lamps and oil. Safer than even the candle lamps, generally, and in the non-hurricane season, they can be decorative.
And, for the long-term, either a generator or solar backup solution. If I can find a way to protect the panels eaisily from wind damage, I think that’s best. In 6-8 hours after the storm hits, we’ll probably have sun again, so I can start charging batteries, but gas may be a long time coming!

I’m sure there are more things, too, but, for now, that’s a good start. Of course, I may move away before that, but, still, the latent survivalist in me would love to have all this on hand, just in case. I mean, if the Rapture comes and I’m left behind, I may just have to “civilize” the heathens! (Hmm, maybe I should add a Bible to that list…)

9/24/2005

Had a Look Around: Rita Part 10

Filed under: Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,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 Sheep which is mid-afternoon or 3:34 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

I just got back from a little drive with Hilda.
Some friends called eariler, looking for help with a downed fence. They’ve got dogs and wanted to make it safe for them to be out in the back yard. They offered to trade some barbeque for a couple minutes work, so I grabbed my hammer and nails, loaded Hilda into the car and headed over. I stayed on the feeder road down 290, even though traffic was moving quite well, so I could see the damage. By the time I got to Tidwell, there were large sections of the city that had no power. I took side streets to their house and, again, mostly there was no power, but occasionally there would be neighborhoods that still had traffic lights running. A lot of cars stopped out there, obviously out of gas.
I got there and socialized a bit, as did Hilda. She’s a little hyper for a dog that’s almost three years old, but she’s pretty happy, too. Everyone loves her. Then, I mooched my meal (which was delicious!) and got to work on the fence. I had the worst of it done in about fifteen minutes and then we nailed some plywood from their windows over the other part. It’s a temporary fix, but good enough to let the dogs out to stretch. And, tonight, I imagine it’ll actually be cooler outside than inside, if it’s not raining.
Then I headed home. Again, I stuck to side streets and the feeder. Every filling station I passed on the way to 290 had no gas, but dozens of cars lined up and parked outside, just waiting for gas. Thankfully, when I got home, my gauge was still on F. I got really lucky getting gas on Wednesday at lunch-time when I did. Heading West on the feeder road, I saw a convoy over a mile long of emergency vehicles coming into Houston from out of town to help. It was an amazing and beautiful sight. Police cars, fire trucks, and ambulences, all with their lights going, three lanes across for more than a mile. And, in among them, I saw at least three tanker trucks coming in already with gas. I have to admit, I got a little choked up about that. We had very few problems here in Houston, especially compared to what happened with Katrina, but, still there were extra folks coming to help out the people who had been working 30+ hours without a break. Those professionals are just amazing.
God bless them.

Morning After: Rita Part 9

Filed under: Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,Deep Thoughts,Dog and Pony Shows,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 12:02 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Well, we made it just fine.
I lost my Internet connection last night about 6:00pm during a power flicker. The power did another little dance again right about 8:45pm and I shut down all my computers, just in case we had any problems. I still had cable, so I watched Battlestar Galactica and fell asleep watching Stargate Atlantis about 11:30pm. I woke up about 1:30am or 1:45am when the power went out and stayed out. So, I brushed my teeth and went to bed. The wind was blowing hard, but it really wasn’t too bad yet and there was hardly any rain at all. By then, I’d heard that we were going to get the soft side of this one and I wasn’t really worried at all.
I woke up this morning about 7:00am and still had no power. I got power back around 8:15am and, after it stayed on for a few minutes, I made a pot of coffee, flipped on the TV and started checking on folks. Pretty much the worst thing was everyone losing power. There was virtually no damage and only a little water. As far as I know, there was no flooding in Houston or Jersey Village at all. My own backyard was pretty dry. I had no standing water, except on my driveway, which gets more water from a thunderstorm. The only damage I’ve seen so far has been to my car port. The heavy sheets of plastic that make up the roof were peeled back. They’re still attached, but I’ll have to figure out how to re-secure them. But, I’m going to wait until after the winds die down.
After I check the neighborhood for signs of drama and damage, I’ll post the list of things I’ve been thinking about buying for the next time something like this happens. We dodged a bullet this time, but next time, I want to be really prepared.

9/23/2005

Somthin’s A-Blowin': Rita Part 8

Filed under: Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,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 Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:28 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

It’s getting closer. I can feel it.
The wind is really kicking up now, but only in gusts. I took the dog outside, while I still can. She did her “business”, so I’m hoping Hilda won’t need to go again if the storm actually hits tonight. It could still be in the morning, though. The timing is not as exact as anyone would like.
I brushed my teeth one last time tonight, before filling the bathroom sink with water. My biggest thing now is worrying about water. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, to be honest, since we’re probably going to be pounded with water for the rest of the week, even if we get the “soft” side of the hurricane. Still, it was the one thing that everyone in New Orleans was wanting afterward, so I feel like I can’t have enough. I’ve also filled one of the kitchen sinks with water and put a pot on the stove filled with water. If I lose power, I figure I’ll start boiling water. I can hard boil my eggs first, then start on all that broccoli in my big freezer. Then, if I have any water left in that container, I’ll cook up some pasta. Effecient use of water, I think, to cook three things with the same water. The pasta will keep, if I keep it cool and covered, so I’ll set that aside while I cook as much as I can.
I’m not sure how long I’ll have power. A guy from work told me that someone in my general area has already lost power. No one in my block, though. We’re all snug as a bug in a rug, so far. The news was talking about brown-outs. Of course, they were also saying Rita might be a Category 2 or 3 hurricane when she finally hits land. Still, there will no doubt be lots of wind damage. I hope my roof holds. I really need a new one, but I’d rather not have to get one because a tree came through it! I’m also worried about my car port and covered patio. I hope it all holds together. Same thing for the fence. They’re all so old that I’m afraid a lot of the wood is just going to splinter apart and fly away. When I was out smoking my last pipe-full a couple of minutes ago, there were still birds flying and chasing bugs. The dark clouds are rolling in and, as I mentioned at the top of this post, the winds are really starting to kick up. I’m sure it won’t be too long now.
Oddly enough, the only thing I can think about is whether or not to take one last hot shower before I lose power. So tempting….

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