Diary of a Network Geek

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

2/29/2008

On Staying Put

Filed under: Career Archive,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 7:59 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Attention Headhunters! I don’t want a new job!

Seriously? Thanks for making the overtures to me, but I really don’t want to change jobs.
First of all, these folks supported me when I was going through my cancer treatments when a lot of other companies would have been trying to get rid of me, if they could. And, I don’t mean that they were just supportive, but they kept me on the payroll, not disability, and let me come in and work when I could. How many places would do that?

Secondly, Seatrax is in the Oil and Gas industry, which is, frankly, booming right now. Granted, those $100/barrel oil prices really make things like gas expensive, but they also keep companies in our industry working. Right now, we’re doing very well. We have a lot of work and, based on what I’ve seen, it looks like we’re going to have work for quite a long time. So, if we’re about to go into a recession, which every seems to think we are, I’d rather work for a company with a proven track record who likes the work I do and has future business already.

Thirdly, I like working for a company that actually makes something and contributes to the GNP in a real way. In fact, I think Seatrax is the last, big, crane manufacturer in the United States. Frankly, I’m not sure I could name another post crane manufacturing company, period. And, yes, there is something cool about being associated with a company that make really, big, huge machines that go on the largest off-shore platforms in the world. I’m not sure what it is, but seeing one of those giant machines, in pieces, strapped down to a series of flatbed trucks cruising down the highway toward the shipyard to get installed makes me swell up with pride. There aren’t many companies in the U.S., who are owned buy U.S. backers, that actually produce things any more. At least, that’s how it seems to me. And, I think it’s great to be a part of a team that does.

So, in spite of some really great offers, I like the job I’m at and I’m just going to stay put.
Thanks, though.

Bandwidth Usage

Filed under: Fun Work,Personal,Red Herrings,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Sheep which is in the early afternoon or 2:05 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

I’m a resource hog.

One of my several websites has used 5856.36 megabytes of 6500.00 megabytes of bandwidth as of 13:55 today. Do you think it will make it until midnight when the counters reset?

Transcription Robot

Filed under: Art,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Red Herrings — 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 Third Quarter Moon

I love the juxtaposition of high tech and low tech.

Over at Roland Piquepaille’s blog on ZDnet, there’s a fairly long post about an art project in Germany that has taken a robotic arm and repurposed it to copy the complete Bible as translated by Martin Luther. They even programmed it to do everything in a caligraphic style with fancy, illuminated capital letters starting the paragraphs, just like the monks in the scriptorums used to do. By the time you’re reading this, the art exhibit this is a part of will have closed, but the webpages live on.
So, anyway, it’s cool and you should go read about “a very religious robot“.

2/27/2008

Review: Building a Monitoring Infrastructure with Nagios

Filed under: Fun Work,Geek Work,Linux,Review,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:47 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Well, since I bought it, I think I should review it.

So, I’ve been wrestling with the typically mediocre documentation which surrounds most OpenSource projects and, in an effort to ramp up my efforts, I bought Building a Monitoring Infrastructure with Nagios by David Josephsen. Now, keep in mind that I don’t normally read entire computer books very much any more, but rather read just the few chapters that seem most relevant to my current project and keep the book for future reference. Also, I was in a hurry when I bought this book and didn’t have time to look at it very closely before purchase.

Now, all that being said, this book wasn’t all that helpful to me. It probably would have been a great help if I’d gotten it right when I was starting to install Nagios, though. Sadly, I puzzled out most of what I needed to know about the system the hard way, via on-line help files, how-tos, and trial and error.
With a table of contents broken up into eight chapters, titled; Best Practices, Theory of Operations, Installing Nagios, Configuring Nagios, Bootstrapping the Configs, Watching, Visualization, and Nagios Even Broker Interface, you can see that this book is about installing the base system and monitoring the most basic of services. I got the book hoping to monitor an SQL database and, if possible, the completion status of backups. Sadly, that’s not covered in this book. I did manage to find more information on-line regarding the SQL database monitoring, but not about watching backups.

So, mostly, this book didn’t get done what I was after. However, since there are things wrong with my installation, I may save the configuration files, wipe the server and start over, following the principles laid out in this book. For instance, I can’t seem to get scheduled down-time set via the web interface on my installation, which should be possible by default. And, the visualization on my monitoring server leaves something to be desired, so, if I start over, I’ll reference the chapter on Visualization. Certainly, it would be nice to start from a clean slate and do it right, but I may not have time to do that. We’ll see.

In short, Building a Monitoring Infrastructure with Nagios was a bit of a disappointment for me, but not because it wasn’t a good book. Rather, by the time I bought this book, I was a little past implementing most of the strategies discussed. Again, though, if I end up starting over, which I may, I’ll definitely read more of this book to get it done the right way.

2/26/2008

Review: Old Man’s War

Filed under: Fiction,Fun,Review,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:04 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

I read Old Man’s War by John Scalzi this weekend.

I’m still reading Soon I Will Be Invincible, but, Friday, I got a free newsletter from Tor Books and it included a link to Old Man’s War as an ebook.  Naturally, I dropped everything to read it.  And, am I ever glad that I did!
John Scalzi is one of those authors that I’ve been hearing about the past year or two as being one of the new faces to watch in science-fiction, and, after reading Old Man’s War, I can see why.  On the surface, this is an old-fashioned colonization/space-war book in the vein of Heinlein or Niven, but with something else, too, that reminded me of Joe Haldeman at his peak.  This is truly great work and I’m sure I’ll be buying more of Mr. Scalzi’s books very, very shortly.

The story follows one seventy-five-year-old man, John Perry, who’s lost his wife of more than fourty years as he joins the Colonial Defense Forces so that he can get a new lease on life, literally.  Apparently, the only way for citizens of non-Third-World countries to colonize space, and take advantage of some slightly secretive, possibly shady, physical rejuvenation program, is to sign up for the military.  The story follows Perry as he leaves the planet, gets his new body and life, and sees the galaxy as a soldier in the Colonial Defense Force.  From there on out, Mr. Scalzi shows us a well-thought-out universe that, frankly, is rather hostile to humans.  He also gives us a compelling story of mankind’s place in that universe and how we might evolve, live and fight in the future.
He also writes a ripping yarn.

I cannot recommend Old Man’s War enough.  I don’t want to go into too much detail on this, so I don’t ruin it for you, readers, but, if you like science-fiction, you owe it to yourself to get this book and read it.

2/23/2008

The Original “Blogger”

Filed under: Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Fun,Personal,Red Herrings,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 8:53 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Today is Samuel Pepys’ birthday.

Samuel Pepys is the quintessential diarist.  He was certainly not the first person to keep a diary, but he is, perhaps the most famous.  He kept his diary for ten years, beginning on January 1, 1660, and detailed not only famous events, but also the daily trivia of his life, including such mundane things as what he ate or wore that day.  His diary has been an invaluable tool to historians studying the period.
As I look at my archives, stretching back a mere eight years or so, I find myself wondering if researchers of the future will be referencing our blogs to gain historical context for major events.  And, perhaps, even the movies we watched, the things we ate, and other, more trivial bits of cultural ephemera.  I have to admit, especially in reference to my own blog, the thought makes me smile a bit.
You can find an on-line, blog-like version of Samuel Pepy’s Diary by clicking the link.

2/22/2008

Nerf MACHINE GUN!

Filed under: Art,Fun,Hoffman's Home for Wayward Boys,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 4:58 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Gah!

Now, for my regular readers, I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I am, in fact, a giant kid. Honestly, I attribute that single fact to why I am an instant “favorite uncle” to, well, every child under the age of eighteen. Grown-ups just do not do the things I do. It’s apparently not allowed.
In any case, my latest obsession is Nerf guns. Specifically, making them, well, cooler. (You can see the first one I did on Flickr.) There’s just something about them that appeals to the big, rough-and-tumble kid in me.

So, you can imagine how excited I was when I saw that Hasbro is making a Nerf machine gun. Yes, a fully automatic machine gun, complete with belt-fed magazine and tripod. And, no, this is not a hoax. I have confirmed it at the Hasbro media press release page. As soon as I see an updated release date for the Nerf Vulcan EBF-25, you can bet that I’ll post an update. (Shoot, even the name is cool. Well done, Hasbro!)

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2/19/2008

Don’t Tell My Mother

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:25 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I have two criteria I measure all potential posts against.

Before I post anything even remotely questionable, I ask myself three questions. First, do I care if my ex-wife knows about it? I always assume she’s reading, whether she is or not. It’s easier than obsessing over all the thousand of visitors I get and ways to conceal one’s identity when browsing. So, before I post something about my personal life, I always consider whether or not I’d care if she knew. Mostly, I don’t care, but, every once in awhile, there’s something that I’d rather not have her repeat to her daughter, who already hates me, thanks to my ex-wife’s tall tales. Honestly, there’s not much and it doesn’t happen very often, but, still, I occasionally don’t post things because I’d rather she not know about it.

The second question I ask is whether or not a potential employer or date shouldn’t know what I’m thinking of posting. If I suspect that I might post something that would put off the kind of person I’d really want to be involved with for a long period of time, I don’t post it. And, really, I spend about as much time with an employer as I do a significant other, not including time actually sleeping, so the question is the same. Also, I think the same things that would irritate a potential spouse would probably irritate a potential employer.

The last gauge I use is whether or not I’d tell my mother. In theory, she does read this blog now and again, so she might actually learn something about my life here that I’d rather she not know. Granted, there’s not much that comes to mind that wouldn’t already fall under one of the first two categories, but it is a final check that occasionally rules out a post. For instance, I don’t talk about sex much on this blog not only because it might be off-putting to an employer, but because I’m sure my mother thinks of me as a pre-adolescent, virginal, church-going, innocent boy.
I’m not, of course, but I see no need to disabuse her of that endearing misconception.

What criteria do you all use regarding posting material?
Oh, and don’t tell my mother that I grew up a long, long time ago, okay? Thanks.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time."
   --Abraham Lincoln

2/18/2008

Review: World War Z

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Life Goals,Review,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:52 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I finished World War Z by Max Brooks this weekend.

I’ve hardly read any fiction this past year.  I read mainly non-fiction, but I didn’t even read much of that.  I can blame the chemo treatments, but, really, reading became a job of sorts, not fun.  So, this year, I vowed to read nothing but fiction all year, unless I had to read non-fiction for work.  Also, I’ve lost track of what a narrative is, what plot is, how fiction works and I thought if I immersed myself in fiction, those things would resurface in my soul.  Or some shit like that.

Anyway, I read World War Z, which is a novel about the world after a zombie plague, and the resulting war, sweeps the Earth.  There wasn’t much plot, to be honest, but the book painted some interesting word pictures about a world consumed with a terrible plague that first killed thousands, then brought them back to life and made them the enemy.  Perhaps, it’s more accurate to describe the book as being light on a cohesive narrative.  The “plot” was about how the plague started as something mysterious in rural China, a sickness that made the infected into strange, feral creatures that want to eat and kill every living thing around them.  And, those that don’t get consumed by the living dead become the next legion of walking dead.

Then the author, posing as an investigator for the United Nations, takes us on a tour through space and time, following the plague as it works its way around the world.  Along the way, he introduces us to the leaders and warriors who fought the dead in that war, showing us their struggles and triumphs.  He also paints a fairly realistic world.  I can believe that the way the world he shows us reacts would be how our world would react.  The plot is somewhat thin and clouded by gimmick, as it were, of the zombies, but it’s still a good book.  It bogged down for me in places, and got slow because it was long, but, other than the pacing it was worth the read.  And, again, Brooks shows us a very realistic and well described world that first suffered, then survived, a zombie plague.  So, in the end, World War Z fulfilled its promise.  It may not be my favorite book, or the best I’ll read this year, but it was good and I’m glad I read it.

If you like zombies and science/horror fiction, World War Z is well worth reading.
Oh, and I started Soon I Will Be Invincible, which has started strong and looks like a really interesting book.

2/15/2008

Excuses for a Fee

Filed under: Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:02 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Need a last minute excuse?

Better yet, do you need a last minute excuse that sounds plausible? Well, there’s a firm in Chicago that will make up an excuse for you, for a fee.  This probably would have helped you poor sods that forgot to get flowers for your significant others yesterday.  It’s probably also too late for this year, but, maybe next year.

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