Diary of a Network Geek

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

12/31/2008

Dog Rescue

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

No, I don’t have a dog that needs to be rescued.

In fact, my precious Hilda is rescue dog. Though, all I think I really rescued her from was being spoiled by someone else. She’s so sweet that I’m sure someone would have snatched her up if we hadn’t. But, there are lots of dogs who need to be adopted. Some are, however, more problematic than others. At H.O.P.E., the rescue where I’m a member, we have lots of foster dogs of all kinds. But, even we have special needs dogs, in particular breeds that have been systematically mistreated or that have particularly rough backgrounds and need extra care and attention. Still, the dedicated volunteers do find homes for them, even if they have to go to very special owners.

Some dogs, though, have even more special needs than that. Do you remember Michael Vick? He was that first-round draft pick from the NFL that started an illegal dog breeding and fighting camp. I hesitate to call it that, but I’m not sure what else to call a rough collection of shacks out in the woods where he abused dogs for his own amusement and the entertainment of his friends. He was, thankfully, convicted and sent to jail. He was also forced to pay restitution which went toward the care and rehabilitation of the dogs. Did you ever wonder what happened to those dogs? Well, Sports Illustrated has the story of what happened to Michael Vick’s dogs.

It’s a pretty powerful story, but it ends pretty well, I think.
Oh, and if you read this all the way through and aren’t moved in some way, aren’t touched by the results? Then, I think you have no soul and I cannot possibly love you or even fully trust you. I’m sure that won’t be a problem for the vast majority of my readers, but, well, I’m just saying.

One last thing. Be safe tonight, ringing in the new year. Be careful and watch out for all those people who won’t be. If you haven’t come up with a New Year’s Resolution yet, there’s still time to hit my New Year’s Resolution Generator and let it do the picking for you.
Hope your new year starts off safe and wonderful!


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us."
   --Helen Keller

12/29/2008

Review: Yes Man

Filed under: Fun,Movies,Review — 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 Waxing Crescent


YesMan

Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I saw Yes Man on Christmas Day.

Being away from family on Christmas, and being single so, therefore, not entangled with someone else’s family, I’m often and odds with what to do. Last year, and now, this year, too, I connected with a friend who’s also away from family and single to see a movie. This year, we went to a Thai buffet, which was one of the few things open on Christmas Day, before heading out to the theater.
This year, we were both in the mood for a comedy, so, after looking at the possibilities, we opted for the Jim Carrey vehicle, Yes Man. The premise is nothing new, really. A lonely, single man, who’s nursing a hurt over his divorce, four years prior, Jim Carrey’s character has withdrawn from the world. He’s shut his life down to the bare minimum of going to work, renting videos and ignoring his cell phone so that he can avoid going out and doing more with his friends. Also, he’s avoiding the possibility of running into his ex-wife. Naturally, when his best friend finally drags him out to a bar for a few drinks, and to announce his engagement, the first person he runs into is his ex-wife and her new boyfriend. Naturally, he’s mortified and scuttles off back to his apartment. His friends check on him later and brow-beat him into promising to attend his best friend’s engagement party.
Unfortunately, after getting some bad news about being passed over for a promotion at work, his depression gets worse. Seeing an old acquaintance who’s somehow managed to change his life, for the better, via a self-help seminar that’s all about embracing the power of “yes”. Things reach a peak, or rather a bottom, when his depression leads him to miss his best friend’s party.
So, at his wit’s end, ready to try anything to change, he goes to the “yes” seminar that he heard about. The leader/guru focuses in on this poor soul who agrees to give into the power of “yes” and say “yes” to all of life’s opportunities.

Right, so about now you’re picturing Jim Carrey and all the comedic places that not being able to say “no” can take him. And, you’d probably be about right, too! The movie goes to all those socially uncomfortable places that you’d expect it to go. Saying yes to spam e-mail, the needy neighbor, the street person asking for a ride, the guy on the corner handing out fliers, and so on. And, yes, the movie is as funny as you would think Jim Carrey could be with this situation. In fact, this is the funniest Carrey has been for quite some time.
The other thing about this movie is that it’s actually romantic, too. The main character is the typical “lonely guy”, so it’s not a big surprise that he finds romance when he starts saying “yes” to everything life has to offer. And, yes, he gets into some trouble, too. Trouble enough that you’re not sure it’s going to be a happy ending. But, trust me, it is. I won’t say how it’s happy, because you should go see for yourself, but it is a happy ending.

In short, this is a funny movie that includes some romance, a good story, a moral lesson, and a happy ending. I loved this movie. It had me laughing all the way through. I’m not a huge Jim Carrey fan, but this is a great vehicle for him. It’s funny, crazy and unpredictable. Oh, and all the stuff that seems random and unconnected at first? It all ties together eventually, if you just stick with it. Uh, there is one slightly uncomfortable scene with dentures and oral sex off camera, but that’s how they got their PG-13 rating, I think. It’s in context and funny. Wrong, but funny.

It’s a good movie, so go see it.

12/26/2008

New Year’s Resolution Time

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Life Goals,Personal,Red Herrings,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:39 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is

Well, it’s that time of year again.

Yep, it’s time to start figuring out what resolution you’re going to fail miserably at for the coming year. What? C’mon, you know you never really manage to follow through on your New Year’s Resolutions. But, if you’d like to at least have some fun coming up with one, why not try my very own, home-made New Year’s Resolution Generator? You can choose whether or not to start something or stop something and leave the rest up to drunken, sexy chance! (Well, that sounds better than leaving it up to my feeble programming skills and a pseudo-random number generator, doesn’t it?)
It’s loads of fun and was picked by a Comedy Central blog as a fun toy of the season several years back. So, hey, if the comedy establishment loves it, you know it can’t be bad.

Give it a whirl and start warming up for your New Year’s Eve Party now!

12/25/2008

Surprises

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 9:18 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Surely, you didn’t think I’d actually pass up the opportunity to be philosophical on Christmas Day?

I’m sure some of my more secular readers will wince a little, but, well, it’s the celebration of the birth of Jesus and light into the world, so… So, I think about God and the nature of the universe on religious holidays like this. And, as commercial a holiday as this has become, it is still a religious holiday. At church last night they told us about how God loved the world so much that He gave us His son, who was destined to die for our sins, that we might be forgiven and find redemption. I’ll tell you true, sin I understand all too well. The other stuff, though, well, I struggle with it. It’s not that I came from a bad home or a rough neighborhood or anything like that. In fact, quite the opposite is true. I have a good, relatively tight-knit family and I grew up in a relatively affluent neighborhood. But, somewhere between junior high and my divorce I found more than my fair share of sin. I found it in spite of knowing better. I found it because I went looking for it, to see what I was missing, I guess.

I guess I found more than my fair share of redemption, too. It’s a strange thing, really, since I mostly did what I could to hide from it. But, then, God’s plan for all that, sin and redemption both, is a mystery to me. That mystery is what I’ve been thinking about today. I’ve been thinking about it a lot the past week, really, as we got closer to Christmas. God’s plan baffles me. I suppose it should, really. Who can know the mind of God?
I envy people who think they know God’s will for them. I envy those proud souls who think they know what the Scriptures all mean and how to sort everyone and what we should all do. I wish I had that kind of knowledge, that kind of confidence. Me, well, I’m not so sure. God surprises me still. Ha! God surprises me constantly!
But, I know people who believe they know God’s will. Hell, I have friends who believe they know God’s will, or at least some part of it. When I express a certain amount of despair over my ignorance, my sense of being lost in the wake of that. I struggle with seeking His will for me. I struggle to know if it’s His will or my own that I hear when I seek for what to do. There are times when I feel like God is telling me to do somethings that I don’t want to do. You see, that’s why I have a hard time believing those people who claim to know God’s will. He never seems to tell them to do things that are difficult. Have you noticed that?

It’s only in the Bible that people are told to do the difficult things. I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone who claims to know God’s will that thinks He’s telling them to do something that they’d rather not. But, you see, that’s my problem. I think God is telling me something. Something I’d rather not be true. I think He’s telling me that I’m meant to be alone. No kids, no wife. Alone. I have friends that disagree, but there are signs and portents. Moving half-way across the country to marry someone only to have that relationship end in divorce and her leaving the state seems a fairly clear sign to me that marriage is not in the cards. Oh, sure, perhaps that means I’m not meant for her, but maybe for someone else. Sure, sure. Except the last person I was dating has left the state, too. I mean, those two things sure seem to point toward me being alone. But, then, I have a friend who tells me that he sees me with someone. Who, he cannot say, but someone. Of course, he sees me as a father, too, but it seems to have been in God’s plan to sterilize me when I took chemotherapy. I’m willing to accept that it was in His plan to keep me alive, but it’s hard to see how I might still have all that other stuff after cheating death, too. I know there’s a lesson there, somewhere, because I do believe that God teaches me through these things, these trials, these conflicts. I have to believe that, or what would be the point?

But, God does surprise me.
Yesterday, I was prepared for a lonely, morose day today, filled with time and distractions from the emptiness. That’s not how today went at all. I was reminded by many friends today that I am far from alone. I may not have that one special, intimate relationship that I so crave, but I am certainly not alone. I was surprised by calls and text messages from friends new and old. And, don’t misunderstand me, there were plenty of people I expected to talk to or hear from today, but some of them took me quite by surprise indeed.
I also had a surprising amount of laughter and joy today.
Perhaps it sounds corny, or quaint, or, perhaps, even a little naive, but I felt something. Call it the presence of God. Call it peace on Earth. Call it what you will, I felt it today. Maybe it was even a bit of that redemption they keep promising in church. Just a hope that maybe my worst fears are wrong. It was no burning bush, but maybe just a hint that my future is filled with possibilities that I cannot know. Just the hope that God has a few surprises for me still.
And, that, dear readers, is what Christmas is about for me, at the best of times. That sense of hope, of second chances, of rebirth, of light that has not yet been overcome by darkness.

Life is full of surprises and God’s plan, seen only, perhaps, in the rear-view mirror, is just one of them, for me.
He surprised me, again, this year. I hope that He will continue to surprise me with the rebirth of light through the rest of this religious year. I hope that you, too, my friends, will have that same experience.

Merry Christmas.

12/24/2008

Merry Christmas

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,Red Herrings — 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 Waning Crescent

That’s it.

Yeah, so no real post today, or tomorrow probably, but something fun on Friday. Be good. Have a merry Christmas and remember why we celebrate.

Tonight, hope will be born again into the world. On this day, I’m more like a Pagan than a Christian, in that I celebrate the rebirth of light into the world.
My your light be rekindled tonight, too.
Amen


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself."
   --Abraham Maslow

12/22/2008

Free Maps!

Filed under: Art,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,MicroSoft,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:14 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

No, not Google Maps.

In this case, it’s a free, trial version of MapPoint North America 2009 and a free, trial version of Streets and Trips 2009. Not sure how long they’ll be free, though. Also, not sure what GPS units, if any, these are compatible with, but it’s implied that MapPoint is with at least one, based on some of the information I’ve read.

So, quick, try them out while you still can!

Tags: , , ,

12/19/2008

NORAD Tracks Santa

Filed under: Fun,News and Current Events,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:38 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

This ought to appeal to my geek and non-geek readers alike!

So, I bet you thought NORAD was just for the Cold War, right? Or that Cheyenne Mountain was just a set for Stargate? Well, no, it’s far more than that. In just a few short days, NORAD will become Santa Tracking Central. No, I’m not kidding. NORAD tracks Santa.

And, this year, you can track him via Google Maps, Twitter and updates to your cell phone. Thanks to NORAD Santa has gotten all Web 2.0 and high-tech, just in time for Christmas!

12/18/2008

Novell Cancels BrainShare

Filed under: Career Archive,Certification,Deep Thoughts,Geek Work,Linux,MicroSoft,News and Current Events,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:29 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Whoa!

Okay, this is for the geeks, specifically for the Netware geeks, like me. Novell has canceled next year’s BrainShare. It’s not clear whether this is just due to a really bad economic situation this year, or whether this will be permanent, but, after 20 years, Novell has canceled their premier convention/training session/user-conference. It does not give me a good feeling for the future of Novell or Netware in general. (If you’re interested, you can read the actual announcement here: Novell BrainShare.)

Wow.
I’m just so shocked I’m not sure what else to say.

Netware was the first real, viable Local Area Network operating system that wasn’t UNIX or some other mainframe system. Yes, there were others, Banyan VINES, SCO XENIX, and even the early Windows Server, but none were as robust and easy to use in those early days as Novell’s Netware. And, you could load it on what was basically a high-powered desktop machine. It might not run well on that, but you could do it.
Novell was the first certification I got when I was new to the network-geek-game. Back in the day, Netware was the thing to know. Now, it seems like a dead, or dying, technology. Now, we’re all learning Linux and UNIX, which, of course, was what Netware was modeled after. Wow, the times, they are a changing.

So, if you’re a fellow network geek like me, I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments. I have to say, I’m really shocked by this news. It cannot mean good things for Novell, even if they only cancel for this year and start up again next year.

12/17/2008

ToDo on your desktop

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Geek Work,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 Waning Gibbous

I love todo lists!

It may surprise some of my readers who know me in RealLife, but I love todo lists. I don’t know how I’d get through my day without them, actually. I’m sure it confuses people when I tell them I’ll work on something and spin around to type into a terminal window, though, since I use a super simple, text-based todo list, which I’ve actually mentioned before.

Well, I don’t have anything to confuse them less, but, if you’re like me and love having your todo list visible, then this program is for you! The author refers to it, confusingly for me, simply as ToDo, which also happens to be the name of the BASH script I use for the same purpose. However, unlike the program I use, this one puts your todo list into your Windows Desktop! How cool is that? Now, you can have your digital todo list right on that beautiful Desktop Wallpaper that you spent hours finding and choosing. Yea!

Oh, and in case you didn’t get it from the description, this is a Windows only program. Sorry Mac users!

12/15/2008

Review: The Day The Earth Stood Still

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Movies,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:24 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous


DayTheEarthStood

Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I saw The Day The Earth Stood Still Friday night, for my birthday.

Okay, now, it’s probably important to know that the original version of The Day The Earth Stood Still is one of my all-time favorite science-fiction films. It’s regarded by most film scholars as a classic, and not just of science-fiction. So, I did my best to set aside any preconceived notions of how this film should run or the ways that it could go wrong and just enjoy it for what it is.

The movie stars Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly. I’m not a big fan of Keanu Reeves, even though he starred in the Matrix, but I do adore Jennifer Connelly. In any case, Reeves stars as the alien who’s deciding whether or not to eradicate all life on Earth, to let it restart, basically. To remove all of humanity’s damage so that the Earth can restore herself to her natural, pristine state. Jennifer Connelly plays a scientist who is called in to study Klaatu, played by Reeves. She and Klaatu form an uneasy alliance as he explores the world he’s come to destroy and the people he’s come to erase.
Naturally, the plot runs about the way you think it would. Klaatu starts off remorseless and determined to fulfill his mission. Connelly’s character uses every means at her disposal to convince him to do otherwise. She uses her son, who’s really the son of the man she was married to before he died. That’s one of many departures from the original film. Connelly’s character is really several characters from the original film all in one. She also takes Klaatu to see a genius friend of hers to try to convince him that humanity can change and the Earth isn’t lost. The genius is played by John Cleese, who is a real genius and actually plays a serious role here.

Now, normally, I try not to spoil films and books by not giving too much away. But, I’m going to deviate from that a bit here and just warn you that I’m totally going to fill the rest of this paragraph with spoilers. If you don’t want to “ruin” the movie for yourself, skip to the next section. Ready? Still with me? Okay, so the movie was okay, but it seemed like it was building towards something then, suddenly, with the Earth saved, the movie just ends. So, there’s all this huge build up and then… Poof! Nothing. Fade to black and roll the credits. That’s it. A mediocre film with great effects that just never quite pays off in the end.

So, yeah, it was okay, I suppose. Most of the film was decent enough, except for the part I described in the “spoiler paragraph” above. It’s a shame, really, since Reeve and Connelly do a good job otherwise and have decent roles going right to the end. The movie just never seems to get to its point, we never get the pay-off that we’re expecting. Worse yet, I don’t ever remember Keanu uttering the famous words from the 1951 original: “Klaatu barada nikto! ”

I recommend that you see this on the big screen, but at a matinee. This remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still isn’t as good as the original, but the effects make it worth seeing on the big screen, just not at full price.

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